improving iaq in schools

As school started in the fall, we examined ways in which IAQ impacts schools and universities. We also looked at how school buildings benefit from improved indoor air quality. Next, we presented various methods and services for correcting school IAQ issues. We also noted that the pandemic offers a rare opportunity to administrators for improving IAQ in schools. 

Mold Found in Student Housing

As students returned to school in the fall, we took a look at some of the issues facing facilities managers at the college level. Improving IAQ in their schools is important to the safety of students and staff. For schools experiencing hot, humid conditions over the summer months, mold in dormitories is an issue. For example, we looked at a recent case at Villanova University in Pennsylvania. A period of high temperatures and heavy rainfall created an ideal environment for mold to flourish and complaints from students doubled in the first weeks after moving in. 

Mold exposure triggers symptoms of congestion, runny nose, and sore throat. It can lead to more serious respiratory conditions if not addressed. Improving IAQ in schools prevents mold from forming. This includes the systems and methods that comprise Pure Air Control Service’s Building Sciences. Our highly trained team of certified professionals performs assessments and analysis as well as remediation and monitoring to eliminate mold and other pathogens and improve IAQ in schools.

The Benefits of Improving IAQ in Schools

Of course, clean air is preferable to air filled with airborne pollutants. Ridding the air of harmful microbes, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, is the goal of every school administrator. However, other benefits occur as well. For example, improving IAQ in schools can lead to higher test scores. This was the finding in southern California after a gas leak forced area schools to upgrade their HVAC systems.

A leak at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility in 2015 prompted the company to work with the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) to improve IAQ in the schools affected by the leak. Officials had air filters placed in the classrooms of every school within a five-mile radius of the storage facility. As a result, student test scores rose at the same rate as when classroom sizes are reduced. We’ve discussed how cleaner air leads to better cognitive performance and this is yet another example. Placing air filters in each room for $700 per filter is much cheaper than making wholesale engineering changes. It also speaks to the effectiveness of our Building Health Check which includes an HVAC Hygiene Assessment to measure the impact the system has on environmental conditions and helps us improve IAQ in the schools we work with. 

No Single Approach for IAQ Improvements

As the school year continued, we continued to discuss the importance of proper ventilation to the health of building occupants. This includes students in schools from K-12 facilities to the college level. Keeping classrooms and student housing free from dust, mold, bacteria, and volatile organic chemicals is critical. 

We also addressed the repair needs of aging HVAC systems. In many cases, systems need upgrades and not costly replacements. Improving school IAQ on the other hand reduces the risk of childhood asthma and other respiratory problems while also increasing cognitive performance as we mentioned earlier. Student absenteeism is also expensive. Making repairs and improvements is the more cost-effective option.

We recommended an approach to improving school IAQ that includes testing, restoration, cleaning, disinfecting, and monitoring. For example, Pure Air Control’s New Life Restoration includes our PURE-Steam, PURE-Coat, PURE-Liner, and PURE-Cell methods for improving school IAQ.

COVID Offers Opportunity for Improving School IAQ

As much pain and heartache as the ongoing pandemic continues to cause across the world, in the US it has created opportunities as well. Improving school IAQ is one of them. A report from the American Society of Civil Engineers found that a little over forty percent of the public schools in the nation operate with HVAC systems in need of replacement or upgrading.

With the money Congress allocated through the American Rescue Plan, schools have the funds to make the necessary changes. School administrators who use these funds to improve school IAQ will gain all of the benefits we’ve discussed. That includes fewer missed days for students, higher testing, and less risk of respiratory problems. For our part, the Building Sciences program utilizes the skills and knowledge of environmental consulting professionals to diagnose and treat IAQ issues. As well, our IAQ Guard system monitors indoor conditions 24/7 to prevent issues from occurring. With monitors placed throughout the building, our remote team tracks relative humidity, temperature, particulate matter, and CO2, as well as other gases. Any change in these levels prompts action which could include our cleaning, disinfection, or other services.

Take on IAQ Issues in 2022

In 2021, we learned a lot about coronavirus and how it impacts school IAQ. Put our knowledge to the test and get cleaner air in classrooms for 2022. Call us at 1-800-422-7873 or email us here.