Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Spring air cleaning in schools

The transition from winter to spring
can cause poor air quality in schools.
The winter months bring changes in weather conditions and building-occupant behaviors, and therefore changes to how school facilities are operated and maintained.

In addition, spring weather may bring heavy rain and possible flooding to certain parts of the country which can impact the indoor environment in schools.

It is particularly important to put in place proactive indoor air quality (IAQ) management practices to effectively manage the transition from winter to spring conditions.

Follow the tips below to help your school prepare for seasonal IAQ challenges.

Inspect and maintain ventilation systems 
During cooler weather, the heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system may be working overtime. Good ventilation system design, operation and maintenance are critical to providing clean and healthy air in schools. Regularly inspect your ventilation system and establish a maintenance plan to provide adequate air ventilation, control odors and reduce the levels of pollutants that cause most IAQ problems inside school buildings. The Ventilation Checklist and Backgrounder offer in-depth guidance to schools for inspecting ventilation systems.

Control moisture levels to prevent mold
In many regions, the change in seasons brings a change in outdoor temperature and humidity and an increase in rain or flooding, which can lead to moisture problems and mold growth. Maintaining the relative humidity in school buildings between 30 and 60 percent will help control mold. In addition, prompt and effective remediation of moisture problems, including drying wet areas within 24 to 48 hours, is essential to prevent mold growth.

Proactively use Integrated Pest Management (IPM)
Wintertime means more time spent indoors by students and staff, and the cooler weather can bring in unwanted pests who are seeking shelter from the cold. Pest populations can be eliminated, prevented or controlled by creating inhospitable environments for pests (removing basic elements that pests need for survival) and by blocking pest access into buildings. Follow the IPM checklist to help identify potential pest problems in schools buildings.

Involve everyone
In addition to the tips above, in order to maintain healthy indoor environments during this time of year and year-round, it is critical to ensure everyone plays a part. Open communication is a key component to securing buy-in from your school community members about the importance of proactive IAQ management and sustaining these plans long-term. The Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools: Communications Guide is a companion tool to the IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit that outlines the benefits of implementing an IAQ management program. It also includes case studies.

The IAQ Tools for Schools is designed to help schools maintain a healthy environment in school buildings by identifying, correcting and preventing IAQ problems. 

Source: EPA

Poor indoor air quality is a serious concern in schools, as it can affect children, teachers and staff equally. Children are susceptible to the airborne chemicals, odors, gases, particles, dust, allergens, bacteria, viruses and molds and poor IAQ has been shown to lower productivity, increase absenteeism, aggravate asthma and respiratory diseases and other health concerns.
For better quality air, schools need to implement the tips above and make sure that indoor air quality is improved. Electrocorp has designed mobile yet sturdy air cleaners for schools that can remove the widest range of airborne contaminants with their activated carbon + HEPA air filter system. Contact Electrocorp for more information.

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