Tuesday, July 24, 2012

EPA stresses a healthy environment in schools

Poor indoor air quality impacts students as well as
teachers and school staff, experts warn.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has long been a promoter of good indoor air quality in schools as well as greener administration practices, and helps schools make changes for the better with their Tools for Schools guidance.

In a recent webinar on Green Ribbon Schools (GRS), a US Department of Education project, experts demonstrated why indoor air quality is so important for a healthy school environment as well as for academic success.

Environmental health is one of the main pillars of GRS, and focuses on integrated pest management (employing healthier alternatives to pesticides), ventilation and contamination controls of indoor air pollutants such as chemicals, tobacco smoke, mold, radon and more.

IAQ often overlooked

According to the webinar experts, indoor air quality can affect the students, teachers’ and administrators’ health, comfort and ability to perform.

IAQ is a major component of the school’s physical environment that is the most easily overlooked, they said.
In schools, IAQ should always be a priority because children are more vulnerable to environmental pollution.

Indoor air pollution can cause or aggravate asthma.
They breathe more air than adults in relation to their body size and their immune systems and organs are still developing.

Health effects of poor IAQ can be immediate or long-term. For example, many indoor air pollutants can cause or trigger asthma, or aggravate the symptoms.

With one out of every 10 school children suffering from asthma, the missed school days also affect their overall performances.

Academic performance linked to IAQ

The experts cited scientific evidence that showed how improved indoor air quality increases productivity, the ability to concentrate and recall information and can reduce respiratory illnesses.

It can also save schools money, as better academic performances may mean increased funding for the district. A healthy school environment in a well-maintained school also means fewer costly, major repairs have to be done. Schools also have to spend less on substitute teachers, if there are fewer health-related absences.

The experts gave the following tips for schools:
  • Change the HVAC filters regularly
  • Fix water infiltration problems immediately to avoid mold and mildew
  • Implement Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices
  • Keep rooms clean and free of clutter
  • Store hazardous products safely
  • Ban idling vehicles outside
  • Use healthy cleaning agents and materials
  • Conduct regular inspections
Source: EPA

Air cleaners for schools, daycares and universities

Children and staff need to be protected from indoor air pollutants. Aside from making the changes outlined above, learning institutions can use affordable and portable air cleaners to help provide cleaner and healthier air.

Electrocorp’s air cleaners for schools and universities feature a deep-bed activated carbon filter for chemicals, gases, odors and fumes, a HEPA filter for particles, dust and pollen, and optional UV germicidal filtration for biological contaminants such as mold, bacteria and viruses.

The air cleaners can be placed in individual classrooms, or they can be attached to existing HVAC systems.

For more information, contact Electrocorp at 1-866-667-0297.

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