School Indoor Air Quality

By Czubaj, Camilia Anne | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2002 | Go to article overview
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School Indoor Air Quality


Czubaj, Camilia Anne, Journal of Instructional Psychology


Indoor air quality is affected by emitence of various sources and air movement dynamics. Indoor air pollutants can be natural and anthropogenic materials. Indoor sources of these pollutants are small pools of water in the heating/ventilation/air/ conditioning system. Outdoor pollutants are also brought indoors via the ventilation system, the pollutants are believed to be contributing to the high number of students suffering from asthma. An effective air quality program begins with a "Principles of Conduct." The ventilation system is then evaluated for efficiency. Activities, such as carpet care, must be performed routinely and with appropriate equipment. The Environmental Protection Agency offers seven suggestions to improve indoor air quality. The "green school" design eliminated air pollutants. The Environmental Protection Agency is conducting a study in an attempt to establish indoor air quality standards.

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Air pollution has been an environmental concern for many years. Long streams of smoke can be seen emitting from factory smokestacks. Sometimes, the smoke can be seen coalescing into clouds. Occasionally, these clouds are pink in color. The clouds converge. When the clouds become oversaturated, rain falls to the earth. The vegetation that is watered by the precipitants shows signs of surface burning. The burning is caused by acid. Animals, including humans, eat the vegetation: illnesses occur. The air pollution produced in the factories invades the environment first through the water cycle. Secondly, the acid permeates ecosystems and food chains. This pollution is clearly visible. It is seen outdoors. Hence, it is termed outdoor air pollution. Conversely, indoor air pollution occurs indoors and is harder to detect visually.

Since indoor air pollution is generally invisible, most people have not concerned themselves with it. Only occasionally were odors detected. However, people are becoming ill by breathing air inside of buildings. Children are becoming sick in the schools that they attend. Some of the illnesses are being attributed to the air quality within the schools. The air quality in schools is becoming a primary concern. This report is to identify some of the indoor air pollutants in schools, their causes, and to offer some solutions to improve the indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools.

Overview

IAQ is affected by emitence from various sources and air movement dynamics. Indoor air pollutants can be natural and anthropogenic materials. Natural pollutants are pollens, spores, microorganisms, dust, and radon. Some indoor sources of these pollutants are small pools of water in the heating/ventilation/air-conditioning (HVAC) system and stacks of books and papers that have accumulated dust. Outdoor sources are landscape materials and airborne particles brought in by the wind from across town. Anthropogenic air pollutants are volatile compounds (VOCs), semi-volatile organic compounds (SVOCs), carbonyl compounds, carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter. Some indoor sources of these pollutants are maintenance activities, furnishings, and commercial activities. Outside sources are automobiles, waste management, industrial processes, and fuel storage. These indoor pollutants are being circulated throughout buildings with the HVAC system. People are becoming ill. Since there are more people in closer spaces in schools than other buildings, more people are being effected by indoor air pollution in schools. Children, because of their size, may be more susceptible to the pollutants and contaminates than adults. One out of 13 school-aged children suffers from asthma (Kennedy, 2001). Asthma, a breathing difficulty, is the leading illness that results in more than 10 million absentee days in schools annually, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Kennedy, 2001). It is believed that the allergens and irritants that contribute to asthma and other illnesses can be reduced in schools with an effective air quality program.

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