Creating and maintaining healthy school environments is a necessity for students and staff. Here’s a quote from a national magazine that supports this. It reads... (read quote). **Ask audience when they think this was quoted** **Click Mouse for name of magazine and date to appear.** As you can see, this is not a new issue for schools, indoor air quality and the importance of healthy environments has been a discussion topic for a long time. In our time, it is a topic that requires our immediate action.
What is indoor air quality? When we use this term, what are we talking about? According to Webster’s Dictionary, Indoor Air Quality involves all aspects of the environment from temperature, humidity and ventilation to the chemical and biological elements that exist inside schools. Today, IAQ is among the top five environmental risks as people spend more than 70% of their time indoors and can be six to one hundred times as polluted as outdoor air. This risk affects the health of students and staff and their ability to be academically successful.
That is why we should care about this issue. ** Read some stats from slide** **After second bullet** - Older buildings can have improper, old, or broken ventilation systems, unseen cracks that allow moisture to enter the building at the foundation or through the roof. **After third bullet** - An unhealthy school environment can affect student achievement and teacher performance.
Is indoor air quality an issue for most schools? Yes. Does this issue apply to us? Yes. What can we do about our own schools? The first step is implementing an IAQ management plan. Without this plan, we run the risk of: reduced productivity for teachers and staff; potential liability problems; and negative media coverage which can damage reputations and result in a lose of public trust. and increased potential health conditions, like asthma and other respiratory ailments.
Asthma has been classified as an epidemic among children, especially those in poor, urban communities. If children are experiencing higher asthma episodes because of an unhealthy school environment, then these ill children are not in school and therefore, can’t learn or if they are able to attend school, they can’t concentrate on the lesson at hand which impacts their level of academic success. The school environment is key to providing a place where children can thrive academically. It goes hand in hand with books, nutrition and physical activity.
There is a proven link between the school environment and asthma in children and adults. Asthma triggers can be found in most classrooms in carpets, stuffed animals, classroom pets, mold, etc. These asthma triggers bring on asthma attacks. In addition to allergy symptoms such as watery eyes, sneezing and itching, these triggers can cause airway constriction to occur.
Here is an example of a colorful, creative, fun classroom that can possibly contain several asthma triggers such as: Coats – animal dander, cockroaches can be carried on individual coats stuffed animals Carpet Can you see any more triggers?
Many say that school leaders don’t believe asthma is an epidemic, that the school environment actually affects academic performance or that the environment is a high priority among the other issues facing schools, but that is not true. (click for entrance of graphic) According to a survey of superintendents conducted by the American Association of School Administrators, superintendents acknowledge the importance of indoor air quality in schools and understand the link between IAQ, achievement and student health. Most support the implementation of an IAQ management plan, but require more resources and information to assist in this endeavor.
School leaders understand the poor state of school facilities including; Overcrowding that brings about portables, additions, nontraditional use of janitor closets, etc. Older building suffer from deferred maintenance and could be special sources of pollution and odors. The other reality is that to improve the nation’s schools is an undertaking that comes with a large price tag as noted here by the National Center for Education Statistics.
What can we do? Be reactive: Respond to concerns, complaints, attacks, or episodes once they have occurred. Be defensive in communications and risk lawsuits, loss of public trust, and sick children. Be proactive Trainings and health education for faculty, staff, students, and parents Audit buildings with and without IAQ concerns in order to find (and fix) problems Create a Site Safety Committee to address and solve health and safety issues in-house. Create communications guide for proper procedure and follow-up and media communications Establish policies that support health school environments – no pets, no smoking, all children have an asthma management plan.
This program from the US EPA is FREE and shows schools how to carry out a practical plan of action to improve indoor air problems at little or no cost using straightforward activities and in-house staff. The Kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample policies, and a sample IAQ management plan. ** Available from AASA and EPA ** Remember - No one department or person can do this alone. Facilities working with teachers working with school nurses working with communications personnel working with the superintendent working with the school board – this requires team effort, communication and shared accountability
American Association of School Administrators has been involved in promoting the importance of healthy school environments among school leaders since 1992 and works in partnership with EPA to provide resources to schools and school leaders. Here is a list of several resources available to us through this organization.
EPA has resources focused on supporting schools in creating and maintaining healthy environments such as those listed that we can take advantage of in our impending work.
Indoor Air Quality and the Environment
Indoor Air Quality and the School Environment Ensuring our children’s health and academic success Provided by the American Association of School Administrators
Perspective <ul><li>“ In the construction of buildings, whether for public purposes or as dwellings, care should be taken to provide good ventilation and plenty of sunlight….schoolrooms are often faulty in this respect. Neglect of proper ventilation is responsible for much of the drowsiness and dullness that….make the teacher’s work toilsome and ineffective.” </li></ul><ul><li>-Health Reformer, 1871 </li></ul>
What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)? <ul><li>The temperature, humidity, ventilation, and chemical or biological contaminants of the air inside a building. </li></ul><ul><li>- Webster’s Dictionary </li></ul>
Did you know… <ul><li>Americans spend 90% of their day indoors – in classrooms, offices, and at home 11 ; </li></ul><ul><li>90% of schools in U.S. were built before 1980, and 50% before 1960 8 ; </li></ul><ul><li>50% of schools nationwide report unsatisfactory environmental conditions 8 ; </li></ul><ul><li>Students whose school facilities are in poor condition have test scores about 5.5 percentage points below students whose school facilities are in fair condition, and about 11 percentage points below students in excellent facilities. 5 </li></ul>
Why should we care about IAQ in our schools? <ul><li>Nearly 55 million people (20% of US population) spend their days inside elementary and secondary schools 8 ; </li></ul><ul><li>In 1999, one in five public schools had unsatisfactory IAQ levels 1 ; </li></ul><ul><li>58% of schools indicated that their district does not have an IAQ management plan 6 , </li></ul>
Asthma in Schools <ul><li>Between 1980 and 1996, the prevalence of asthma increased 45 percent among children ages 5-14 6 ; </li></ul><ul><li>In 2002, 6.1 million children under the age of 18 were reported to currently have asthma 6 ; </li></ul><ul><li>Asthma is the third leading cause of hospitalization in children under 15 years of age 2 ; </li></ul><ul><li>Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism, accounting for 15 million missed days per year 3 . </li></ul>
The Link Between IAQ and Asthma <ul><li>Asthma prevalence in schools has been associated with higher relative air humidity, higher concentrations of volatile organic compounds, and mold or bacteria 7 . </li></ul><ul><li>Many asthma triggers are found in and due to the school environment, including: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dust mites found in carpeting, stuffed animals, and other cloth/fabric </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Animal dander from classroom pets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cockroaches </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mold </li></ul></ul>
Challenges and Awareness <ul><li>Asthma Triggers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Coats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Stuffed animals </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Carpet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Space is densely populated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MORE?? </li></ul></ul>
Indoor Air Quality and Student Achievement <ul><li>Poor IAQ can reduce a student’s ability to perform specific mental tasks requiring concentration, calculation, or memory 6 . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students may appear sluggish or sleepy, or have headaches; </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indoor air quality is related to asthma and other aspects of health in schools 6 . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More missed school days </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tired from a lack of sleep </li></ul></ul>
Many School Leaders Don’t… <ul><li>Believe asthma is an epidemic. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>CDC and EPA officials have called childhood asthma an epidemic. 9 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Believe asthma and IAQ affect academic performance. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Asthma and poor IAQ do affect academic performance. 5 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Consider the school environment a priority. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students thrive academically in environments that support their health and well being. </li></ul></ul>
School Facilities <ul><li>2004 report by the Maryland Task Force to Study Public School Facilities identified deficiencies in every jurisdiction of the State 10 </li></ul><ul><li>The price tag to improve the nation's school facilities is estimated to cost somewhere between the $127 billion (according to the National Center for Education Statistics) and $268 billion (according to the National Education Association) 4 . </li></ul>
What is wrong? <ul><li>Can you determine how the following photos compromise good indoor air quality? </li></ul>
Challenges and Awareness <ul><li>Building cleanliness </li></ul><ul><li>Wall dust can be an asthma trigger </li></ul>
Challenges and Awareness <ul><li>Vent is partially covered </li></ul>
Challenges and Awareness <ul><li>Poor chemical management </li></ul><ul><li>Improper ventilation </li></ul>
Awareness <ul><li>Idling near windows, doors, and students </li></ul>
What Are Our Options? <ul><li>Reactive Response </li></ul><ul><li>Proactive Response </li></ul>
How to get started <ul><li>Obtain EPA’s Tools for Schools Program Kit </li></ul><ul><li>Define IAQ team and appoint a leader </li></ul><ul><li>Conduct walkthrough of buildings </li></ul><ul><li>Create laundry list of items for repair </li></ul><ul><li>Create communications plan for internal and external stakeholders </li></ul><ul><li>Establish action plan for handling future IAQ-related events </li></ul><ul><li>Establish policies to minimize exposure to asthma triggers (i.e., no pets, no smoking) </li></ul>
AASA Resource to Help Us Begin <ul><li>Copies of EPA’s Tools for Schools Kit – free to schools </li></ul><ul><li>Schoolhouse in the Red (2004 edition) </li></ul><ul><li>School Governance & Leadership (Spring 2003) </li></ul><ul><li>Frequently Asked Questions on AASA website </li></ul><ul><li>Scholarships to attend EPA IAQ Tools for Schools Annual Symposium </li></ul><ul><li>Powerful Practices: A Checklist for School Districts Addressing the Needs of Students with Asthma </li></ul><ul><li>Urban Resource Coalition </li></ul><ul><li>Rural Resource Coalition </li></ul><ul><li> Website: www.aasa.org </li></ul>
EPA Resources to Help Us Begin <ul><li>Tools for Schools </li></ul><ul><li>Design Tools for School </li></ul><ul><li>Indoor Air Quality Symposium (held each winter in Washington, DC) </li></ul><ul><li>H-SEAT </li></ul><ul><li>Mold Remediation online tutorials and publications </li></ul><ul><li>Website: www.epa.gov/schools </li></ul>
Other IAQ Resources <ul><li>National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities – www.edfacilities.org </li></ul><ul><li>Council for Educational Facilities Planners – www.cefpi.org </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental Law Institute – www.eli.org </li></ul><ul><li>Allergy & Asthma Network, Mothers of Asthmatics http://www.aanma.org/ </li></ul>
References <ul><li>1 About IAQ Design Tools for Schools, Introduction (June 20, 2006).U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. http:// www.epa.gov/iaq/schooldesign/introduction.html . </li></ul><ul><li>2 Asthma Facts and Figures (June 2006). Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. http:// www.aafa.org/display.cfm?id =8&sub=42 . </li></ul><ul><li>3 Asthma Prevalence, Health Care Use and Mortality, 2002. (2004). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. </li></ul><ul><li>4 Colgan, C. (June 2003). “What Schools Cost: The Dollars and Sense of Construction, Maintenance, and Energy,” American School Board Journal, 190, 6. http://www.asbj.com/specialreports/0603Special%20Reports/S1.html . </li></ul><ul><li>5 Indoor Air Quality and Student Performance (March 2001, Revised 2003). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. </li></ul><ul><li>6 Moglia, D.; A Smith; DL MacIntosh; and JL Somers (January 2006). “Prevalence and Implementation of IAQ Programs in U.S. Schools” Environmental Health Perspectives 114, 1, 141-146. http://www.ehponline.org/members/2005/7881/7881.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>7 Schneider, M. (November 2002). Do School Facilities Affect Academic Outcomes? National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities. </li></ul><ul><li>8 School Facilities: The Condition of America’s Schools, Report to Congressional Requesters (February 1995). U.S. General Accounting Office. http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/pdf_files/he95061.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>9 Steps to a Healthier US Prevention Report (Winter 2004).U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 18, 2. http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov/pubs/prevrpt/04Volume18/Iss2Vol18.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>10 Task Force to Study Public School Facilities Final Report (February 2004). State of Maryland, Library and Information Services, Office of Policy Analysis, Department of Legislative Services. http://mlis.state.md.us/other/education/public_school_facilities_2003/Final_Report.pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>11 The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality (April 1995). U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission, Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. http:// www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidest.html#Intro . </li></ul>
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