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Back to School: Doing Your IAQ Homework

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image: Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program [ http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/index.html?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ]

Fall 2017 E-Newsletter

Featured in This Issue

* Its Back-to-School Time! Are You IAQ-Ready? [ article2 ]
* Theres Power in Prevention: School IAQ and Preventative Maintenance [ article3 ]
* This School Year Take Action on Indoor Air Quality With These Simple Tips [ article4 ]
* Join This Years Green Apple Day of Service! [ article1 ]
* New Literature Review on School IAQ, Ventilation and Performance Reveals a Problem [ article5 ]

Back-to-school season is here! Starting the school year means different things to different people. For most teachers, it means having lesson plans prepared, setting up the classroom to welcome students and, of course, making sure the classroom is conducive to learning. For maintenance and operations staff, back-to-school is a perfect time to brush up on IAQ knowledge. Watching EPAs IAQ Master Class Professional Training Webinar Series and IAQ Knowledge-to-Action Professional Training Webinar Series on-demand is a good way to boost your knowledge or take a refresher course on IAQ management tactics, hearing from technical experts what to look for in your facilities when conducting your walkthroughs.

The IAQ Master Class Professional Training Webinar Series [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/indoor-air-quality-schools-master-class-webinar-series?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] provides the comprehensive approaches you need to manage your school facilitys IAQ. These webinars help you start, improve or sustain an IAQ management program.

IAQ Graphic

Dont forget to download your certificate of completion after each webinar so that you can be recognized for your knowledge acquisition! Viewers who complete all 10 webinars are acknowledged with a certificate of IAQ mastery.

For a more in-depth look at school IAQ management, check out the IAQ Knowledge-to-Action Professional Training Webinar Series [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/iaq-knowledge-action-professional-training-webinar-series?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ]. This series builds off of the IAQ management and best practices information provided by the IAQ Master Class webinars. The IAQ Knowledge-to-Action webinars help to solidify IAQ management tactics through technical training. IAQ Master Class members are not required to watch the IAQ Knowledge-to-Action webinars, but they are encouraged to take advantage of the series to reinforce what they learned in the IAQ Master Class Webinar Series. Furthermore, the IAQ Knowledge-to-Action series offers continuing education credits to those viewers who request them.

*Looking for tips on how to be IAQ-ready?*

Start with the IAQ Master Class webinar Creating Healthy Indoor Environments in Schools: The Knowledge Network and Actions You Need [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/forms/master-class-webinar-creating-healthy-indoor-environments-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and the IAQ Knowledge-to-Action webinar Healthy Schools, Healthy Students: Taking Action to Improve IAQ in Your School District [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/forms/webinar-healthy-schools-healthy-students-taking-action-improve-iaq-your-school?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ]. These two webinars are designed to provide the knowledge base and background necessary to successfully implement the “IAQ Tools for Schools” Framework for Effective School IAQ Management [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/framework-healthy-indoor-environments-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and systematically address IAQ issues with policies and practices that can help your school save money and improve health. For more general information on IAQ and schools, visit www.epa.gov/iaq-schools [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ].

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Preventative Maintenance, with tools around the words.

What is preventative maintenance? How does it relate to school IAQ? The answers to these questions are critical to every school IAQ management plan and to the operations and maintenance staff of every school. According to the Council of the Great City Schools report on school building deterioration (download [ https://www.cgcs.org/cms/lib/DC00001581/Centricity/Domain/87/FacilitiesReport2014.pdf?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] the report now), preventative maintenance is the foundation for effectively managing facilities assets. A good preventative maintenance program of routine and regular maintenance and repair ensures that equipment and facilities perform reliably. This promotes equipment longevity and saves schools from unexpected, costly repairs. Postponing necessary repairs or system upkeep typically results in increased overall costs, increased unplanned repairs and increased risk of premature facility failure.

Preventative maintenance and IAQ are closely related. If a school facility has poor IAQ, it is likely that the facility has not been performing routine preventative maintenance. If a school facility has healthy IAQ, the school equipment likely has been regularly inspected and repaired. For example, a school that does not routinely inspect its heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment may have clogged air filters. Air filters are critical to providing fresh air to classrooms and helping keep certain allergens at bay. Effective filters and regular HVAC maintenance are important. The “IAQ Tools for Schools” Action Kit [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/indoor-air-quality-tools-schools-action-kit?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and Framework for Effective School IAQ Management [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/framework-healthy-indoor-environments-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] provide resources focused on IAQ technical solutions that include HVAC management procedures and routine walkthrough inspections.

Practicing preventative maintenance helps schools and school campuses last longer, saves money and provides a healthier environment. When maintenance is deferred, costs add up. A healthy school environment also helps students academic performance. Research has shown that students in deteriorating school buildings score between 5 and 11 percent lower on standardized achievement tests than students in modern, up-to-date buildings. A building that performs well helps students perform well! Preventative maintenance is in an investment in the future that improves school indoor environments today. Stay tuned for more details on our upcoming IAQ Knowledge-to-Action webinar on preventative maintenance and IAQ taking place on November 9you definitely dont want to miss hearing from technical experts about their experiences with this important topic!

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What we breathe indoors matters. In schools, what we breathe and are exposed to can affect both health and academic performance. Fortunately, there is a lot we can do to ensure that the quality of our air indoors is safe and provides a healthy place for students to learn.

As you kick off a new school year, keep the following tips in mind to reinvigorate your schools IAQ management routine and to ensure the new school year is as healthy, productive and successful as possible! Many parties play a role in ensuring that the air quality in schools is healthy. School maintenance staff, teachers, parents, student groups and local public health practitioners can all use these tips to maintain or create a healthy learning environment.

IAQ tools For Schools graphic.

*TIPS:*

* *Conduct a Walkthrough of Your Classrooms.* Use the School IAQ Assessment Mobile App Teachers Classroom Checklist as a guide to ensure that your classrooms are clean and safe for your students. Notify facilities staff if you notice any signs of mold, moisture or other problems.
* *Control Asthma Triggers.* Vacuum carpets and keep fabric-covered items clean to eliminate dust mites, which may trigger asthma and allergic reactions. Keep cockroaches and pests out of the classroom by eating food only in designated areas and keeping it stored in airtight containers.
* *Ensure Adequate Ventilation.* Properly operating HVAC systems are vital for maintaining good IAQ. To guarantee sufficient airflow and eliminate sources of moisture, keep all items off of HVAC units. Use the School IAQ Assessment Mobile App Ventilation Checklist as a reference when checking for pollutant sources.
* *Speak With a School Nurse About Tracking IAQ-Related Symptoms.* By using the School IAQ Assessment Mobile App Health Officer/School Nurse Checklist, your school nurse may be able to help identify environmental issues in your school. For example, a nurse can record reliever medication usage by children with asthma and identify IAQ-related symptoms. Tracking data also can help evaluate your schools successes by implementing safe and effective IAQ management strategies.
* *Engage Parents All Year Long.* Use newsletters or website updates to communicate about your efforts and ensure clean, safe learning environments. Encourage parents to ask questions about IAQ.
* *Learn How to Effectively Communicate With School Officials and Teachers.* Participate in your schools IAQ committee. If your child has asthma, you can take steps to reduce their risk of exposure to environmental asthma triggers in schools. Communicate what you know with your childs school teachers and nurses, and be sure your child has an Asthma Action Plan [ https://www.epa.gov/asthma/asthma-action-plan?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] at school.

Want to put these tips to action? EPAs “IAQ Tools for Schools” Action Kit [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/indoor-air-quality-tools-schools-action-kit?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and School IAQ Assessment Mobile App [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/school-iaq-assessment-mobile-app?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] make it easy. They contain checklists for teachers [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/teachers-classroom-checklist-indoor-air-quality-tools-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ], administrative staff [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/administrative-staff-checklist-indoor-air-quality-tools-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ], school nurses [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/health-officer-and-school-nurse-checklist-indoor-air-quality-tools-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ], school officials [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/school-officials-checklist-indoor-air-quality-tools-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and maintenance staff [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/building-and-grounds-maintenance-checklist-indoor-air-quality-tools-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] that make it simple to keep track of the actions needed to achieve a healthy school environment. You can download the School IAQ Assessment Mobile App and click on the checklists or download them in PDF or Word formats utilizing the “IAQ Tools for Schools” Action Kit, which can be tailored to fit your schools needs.

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Green Apple Day of Service graphic.

Green Apple Day of Service kicks off this month! The Day of Service is an opportunity to join schools around the world in celebrating the central role that schools play in preparing the next generation of environmental leaders.

School events improve the health and safety of the learning environment while strengthening student leadership. Since 2012, the Day of Service events have involved more than 790,000 volunteers in 73 countries, affecting the learning environments of over 7 million students and teachers. With 1 in 8 people attending a school every day, there is more work to be done!

Every event is a chance to give students hands-on experience with environmental stewardship. When deciding on your Green Apple Day of Service project, consider a project that improves the indoor environment. Projects that protect the indoor environment provide a natural bridge to any schools maintenance and operations program, and improving the indoor environment creates a healthier environment for all users. Projects could include performing a school walkthrough to identify indoor air quality issues, a painting project utilizing zero- or low-VOC (volatile organic compound) paints, or changing furnace air filters.

This year, participants make a commitment at the start of the school year and name their own project date for any time throughout the school year. Learn more about Green Apple Day of Service and sign up at www.greenapple.org [ http://www.greenapple.org/?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ].

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratorys Indoor Environment Group recently published a literature review [ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28683161?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] on IAQ, ventilation and school performance that reveals that school ventilation rates often do not meet the minimums specified in standards. Rates of ventilation in school buildings influence air pollutant concentrations, and EPAs studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five timesand occasionally more than 100 timeshigher than outdoor levels. Appropriate ventilation is critical for healthy IAQ, and compelling evidence shows that student performance increases with increased ventilation rates. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratorys review provides evidence helpful to making the case for proactive IAQ and ventilation management.

To make your case for IAQ management and proper ventilation, start with the “IAQ Tools for Schools” Action Kit [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/indoor-air-quality-tools-schools-action-kit?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ]. The kit provides best practices, industry guidelines and a sample IAQ management plan. Combine the kit with the Framework for Effective School IAQ Management [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/framework-healthy-indoor-environments-schools?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] to design an effective program for your school. For more information on school ventilation and IAQ, check out the webinars Fresh Air: Optimal HVAC Management for Improved Health [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/forms/master-class-webinar-optimal-hvac-management-improved-health?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ] and Better Together: Gaining Buy-In for Optimal Ventilation [ https://www.epa.gov/iaq-schools/forms/webinar-better-together-gaining-buy-optimal-ventilation?utm_content=&utm_medium=email&utm_name=&utm_source=govdelivery&utm_term= ].

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