Air Indoor Resources
Unquestionably, school officials all over the country are striving to resolve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues created by poor ventilation and air circulation; moisture; water intrusion; mold growth; off-gassing of materials; building defects and aging facilities. Because of uncertainty, no one has set indoor air standards, proved evidence linking contamination to direct human health effects or even has a full understanding of conditions that influence air quality.
What is certain is that Florida’s hot, humid climate with the propensity for hurricanes has produced many complex interactive IAQ concerns pertaining to: mold, contaminant exposure and health effects that impact productivity and the comfort of the building occupants for not only public schools but commercial buildings as well as residential dwellings. Even though a building’s IAQ may satisfy the recommended guidelines for a number of standard setting organizations, building managers still face IAQ complaints and concerns from their occupants.
The ubiquitous nature of school IAQ problems are driven by many factors that influence the well-being of its occupants as well as the school buildings. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), schools host four-times more occupants than the typical office building with the same amount of space. School buildings, by-design, are more densely populated, making it difficult to maintain environmental comfort and air quality that is considered acceptable by the majority of the occupants.
Unfortunately, growing children have a higher respiration rate than adults and engage in more physical activity. Therefore, they are more likely to experience adverse health effects from indoor contaminants before adults. And most dramatically, statistics indicate that we are experiencing an indoor asthma epidemic with a three-fold increase of asthma since the 1970’s, causing the hospitalization of 470,000 children and 14 million missed school days annually.
In light of these facts, the Florida Department of Education’s Air Indoor Resources's (AIR) mission is to provide technical assistance to school districts to demonstrate good judgment in the careful management of our most valuable resource—children. The goal is to attain cleaner air with less dust and mold, better ventilation and fewer chemicals in an odor-free environment by recognizing and eliminating environmental concerns.
The objective is to assist school officials in the understanding of crucial IAQ factors such as common contaminant types, sources, analytical methods and limitations, data interpretation, engineering and administrative controls, and investigative techniques to prevention, recognize, diagnose, evaluate, and manage or mitigate IAQ problems. The challenge is to draw a sufficient amount of outside air into the building to adequately handle the pollutant load while controlling the humidity of the building and maintaining a comfortable ambient temperature.
However, not only the Facility Managers of the building are part of the solution, the occupants themselves can ameliorate air quality by being familiar with some of the causes and simple solutions that are outlined in the following fact sheet titled, “You Too Can Help Improve Your School’s Air Quality” (PDF). All school personnel need to work together to maintain a safe and healthy learning environment.
Tallahassee, FL 32399