Indoor Environment Quality
» Indoor Air Quality
Indoor Environment Quality
Good indoor air quality is important to the health of a building's occupants. Superior indoor air quality (IAQ) minimizes the presence of indoor pollutants, humidity, and odors. Elements of good IAQ include the following: minimal pollutant sources (such as volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from building materials and furnishings), controlled infestations of microbial and fungal organisms, managed dust and odor accumulation, and adequate ventilation and air filtration.
Because many building products can contribute to poor air quality, you can reduce potential indoor air problems by selecting materials lower in chemicals and toxins.
Specifying products low in VOCs, toxins, and other irritants, and taking steps to reduce the occurrence of mold and dust can help reduce odors and allergic reactions in classrooms. Proper filters or air cleaners can help to reduce the problem if source control is not effective or feasible.
If a school building does not implement sound design practices to improve indoor air quality as discussed above, adverse occupant health conditions may occur. These conditions include "Sick Building Syndrome", "Building-Related Illnesses", "Multiple Chemical Sensitivities", asthma and severe allergic reactions to pollutants such as VOCs, particles, and allergens from animals, insects, plants, dust mites and mold. Children are more susceptible than adults to air pollution, because their immune system and developing organs are immature. Thus, it is expected that schools with bad IAQ would have a lower Average Daily Attendance (or ADA), than a school with good IAQ. Therefore schools with good IAQ are likely to receive more funding because more students are attending class daily. Schools with good indoor air quality are also likely to have high teacher retention rates and will spend less on substitute teachers to replace sick members of the staff. This can improve continuity in school programs and provide students with higher quality educations.
Pre-Construction and Construction Phases
Materials & VOCs
Ventilation & Ventilation Systems
Controls and Monitoring
Pollutant Source Control
Indoor Air Quality Effects
Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS)
(Best Practices Manual Volume 2: Introduction to Guidelines Section, Goals and Cross-cutting Issues, Health and Indoor Air Quality) CHPS aims to facilitate the design of high performance schools in California - environments that are not only resource efficient, but also healthy, comfortable, well lit and contain the amenities needed for a quality education. CHPS has developed a set of Best Practices Manuals (available at www.CHPS.net) to create a new generation of high performance school facilities in California.
Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment
OEHHA's website covers the effects between student health and air pollution and provides further information on how to minimize indoor air pollution.
Department of Health Services-Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Program
The IAQ Program conducts and promotes the coordination of research, investigations, experiments, demonstrations, surveys, and studies relating to the causes, effects, extent, prevention, and control of indoor pollution in California.
National Safety Council (NSC) - Indoor Air Quality section
The NSC's indoor air program consists of educational resources available to help improve indoor air quality in a school. Their mission is "to educate and influence society to adopt safety, health and environmental policies, practices and procedures that prevent and mitigate human suffering and economic losses arising from preventable causes."
California Air Resources Board - Air Quality Standards (ARB)
Ambient air quality standards for the state of California.
National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities - Indoor Air Quality
NCEF's resource list of links, books, and journal articles addressing indoor air quality issues in K-12 school buildings, including building materials, maintenance practices, renovation procedures and ventilation systems.