Asthma Triggers Cause 10 Million Missed School Days Each Year
A well-managed Indoor Air Quality plan can identify and reduce asthma triggers, while lowering facility operating costs.
Clearwater, FL Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that afflicts children. Attacks can be debilitating enough to affect student performance and attendance. While there is no cure for asthma, there are ways to medically treat the symptoms and there are recommendations to identify and reduce agents that act as asthma triggers.
A 2015 study on the association of cognitive function scores and the indoor environment published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that occupants exposed to less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had increased cognitive function performance.
“We have been ignoring the 90%. We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”
And the performance of students too!
According the Florida Department of Education student absenteeism costs the state $228,557,676 per year. Florida schools can lose at least $1020 per chronically absent student. Asthma related absence certainly contributes to these numbers.
Developing a strategic IAQ plan to identify and reduce asthma triggers
Both the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend having a plan for improved IAQ and asthma/allergen trigger reduction. The first step in developing an IAQ plan is to identify and quantify the asthma triggers that are present in a facility. Recognizing that people with asthma might react to just one asthma trigger or sometimes multiple triggers.
Common Asthma Triggers Found in Schools
• Dust Mites
Establish an Indoor Environmental Testing protocol to find and quantify the specific asthma triggers lurking in the facility. There are a variety of sample collection methods and tests that can be performed to establish a baseline and determine the condition of the indoor environment. Culture (Bioaerosol), Non-Culture (spore trap analysis), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) are often used for enumerating the allergens/triggers found. Enzyme Immunoassay (ELISA) of air or dust samples can also be utilized thought it can be costly, time consuming and allergen specific.
While most of the common asthma triggers are well known, VOCs deserve a closer look for better understanding. VOCs are basically organic chemicals. They are numerous and varied. VOCs can be both man-made and naturally occurring chemical compounds. These pollutants can include (but are not limited to) tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building such as: office equipment, furniture, wall coverings, floor coverings and cleaning products, as well as gases like carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide.
Once the building and HVAC system has been tested, the data can then be used to recommend various methods to strategically remove/reduce any asthma triggers that were found. These methods can include Hygienic HVAC System/Ducts Cleaning, Mold Remediation, and hard products like Professional Air Purifiers, to name a few solutions.
Finally, repetition of these two steps, testing and remediation, on a regular basis is what really creates a proactive Indoor Air Quality management plan. The result is healthier and higher performing students, staff and buildings.
About Pure Air Control Services
Pure Air Controls is committed to excellence in all aspects of Indoor Air Quality.
Since 1984 they have endeavored to improve the health, comfort and energy efficiency of their clients’ buildings to the benefits of occupant well-being and the operational bottom line. The company’s fundamental purpose is to provide professional environmental consulting, engineering and evaluation through building diagnostic protocols, laboratory support services and building/HVAC system remediation services.
The company’s three specialized divisions include Building Sciences, Environmental Diagnostics Laboratory, and Building Remediation Sciences. They offer precise building health assessments as well as innovative services for the hygienic cleaning/restoration of HVAC systems and indoor environments. Pure Air Control Services, Inc. can be utilized directly with their cooperative purchasing contracts through the Florida Buy Program and E&I.