Aging school buildings across the country need repairs and upgrades. For some buildings, mold is an issue that demands attention. For others, aging pipes give facilities managers concern while for many, outdated heating and ventilation systems fail to operate at the level needed to keep children safe. In the face of the ongoing COVID pandemic, school air quality is not being fully addressed despite the existence of federal funds to address these issues.
The Importance of School Air Quality
School air quality is important for the health of both students and staff. For starters, improving indoor air quality limits the amount of student absenteeism. Better air quality leads to better learning too. In fact, studies show that improvements to IAQ lead to higher cognitive functioning. That means higher test scores. Better IAQ also lowers the risk of respiratory diseases and asthma and allergies. The benefits of improving ventilation also include lower energy costs as a result of improved performance. Despite the obvious benefits of cost savings and health, schools are not implementing the ventilation improvement strategies outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Federal Funds to Improve School IAQ
Not enough schools have taken advantage of the federal funds available to make improvements to IAQ. This includes funds provided by the Coronavirus Relief Supplemental Act, the American Rescue Plan, the Cares Act, as well as the Infrastructure Bill. These pieces of legislation provide resources for addressing school air quality.
For example, The American Rescue Plan set aside $122 billion for K-12 schools to make upgrades and repairs to mechanical systems. Improving ventilation reduces the spread of airborne viruses, mold, and bacteria. However, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most schools have not made significant changes to improve IAQ. Instead, they’ve opted for low-cost quick fixes such as opening doors and windows and conducting classes outside. Schools have not even invested in air cleaning technology to remove contaminants from the air and improve school air quality.
Improving School Air Quality
According to the CDC report, less than 40 percent of public schools in the US made upgrades to their HVAC systems since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Less than 30 percent use HEPA filters in the classroom with only 37 percent using fans as a way to increase airflow. This is despite the urging of the CDC and the White House for schools to improve IAQ.
For our part, WTI—Pure Air Controls Services offers several services and methods to improve school air quality. From inspections and testing to cleaning and disinfecting, schools that use the available federal funds to invest in ventilation systems will keep students and staff safer as a result. It all starts with a building health check.
Building Health Check for School Air Quality
The Building Health Check screens for allergens and other contaminants. The health check also logs wall and floor moisture, temperature, and humidity levels. Our evaluation includes an HVAC Hygiene Assessment to gauge the effectiveness of the HVAV system on IAQ. The health check includes a detailed report offering recommendations on how to improve school air quality.
PURE-Steam Coil Cleaning
After the assessment, the PURE-Steam coil cleaning method uses steam heated to 350 degrees F to disinfect the coils and AHU. This method kills bacteria and mold as well as allergens and viruses. Additionally, the PURE-Decon method provides a line of defense against viruses and other pathogens. This system uses EPA-certified electrostatic DEP sprayers and misters to disinfect the system. This method destroys up to 99.9 percent of microbes. This allows us to get to areas topical cleaners never reach. The result is a cleaner HVAC system and healthy students and faculty.
HVAC New Life
The HVAC New Life cleans and disinfects HVAC components. It includes the steam cleaning and disinfection methods mentioned above but also the application of an anti-viral, anti-microbial coating for the drain pain and coils. This New Life method restores HVAC equipment to near factory specifications. PURE-Cell is another method that replaces old insulation with zero-porosity, fiberglass-free insulation. This material repels moisture and slows down microbial growth.
Start Your HVAC Asset Planning Today
Access the funds available to improve school air quality so children learn better in a safer environment. To learn more about using federal funds to improve the IAQ in your school while reducing operating costs, contact WTI – Pure Air Control today.