Asthma Prevention in Schools: Report Focuses on IAQ

Oct. 23, 2006

Atlanta (September, 2006) – During the past month, a number of news articles have reported on the spike in the number of asthma attacks among elementary school age children in the early fall. These articles also highlight asthma tips from the American Lung Association to help parents get their children ready for the new school year. What these articles do not address is the significant role poor indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools plays in triggering asthma attacks or what should be done to minimize indoor air pollutants.

“According the US Environmental Protection Agency, an estimated 50 percent of US schools have indoor air quality problems. Consider that 20 percent of the US population (55 million people) spends a good part of their day in schools, then it follows that schools with poor IAQ are putting 10 percent (27.5 million) people at risk for health problems, including the 6 million children in this country with asthma,” says Marilyn S. Black, Ph.D, chairman and chief scientist of Air Quality Sciences Inc. (AQS).

The National Research Council underscores this concern in its review and assessment of the health and productivity benefits of green schools. Specifically, the National Research Council found “a robust body of evidence indicating that the health of children and adults can be affected by air quality in a school,” and “a growing body of evidence [suggesting] that teacher productivity and student learning, as measured by absenteeism, may be affected by indoor air quality as well.” The California Air Resources Board reached a similar conclusion in its 2005 report to the California Legislature on the quality of indoor air in that state.

A new AQS research report takes this issue head on by reviewing which indoor pollutants in schools are of most concern; how poor IAQ impacts children's health and ability to learn; and some exciting new strategies and resources that can help turn the tide toward healthier indoor learning environments. Among the information presented are the results of AQS measurements of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in more than 100 schools—providing a clear picture of the most common types of VOCs found in schools and their sources. Some VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation; cough; headache; general flu-like illnesses; skin irritation; and some can even cause cancer. Others produce odors that may be objectionable.

A summary of the new, tough GREENGUARD Certification for Children & Schools™ standard is also discussed. Because a key strategy for reducing VOCs is to use products and construction materials that emit low levels of these chemical compounds, this standard takes the sensitive nature of school populations and the unique building characteristics and maintenance conditions found in schools into consideration and presents the most rigorous product emissions criteria to date.

“Much of the material presented in the report is available in the scientific literature, but is not always easily accessible or easy to understand. Our hope in providing this research report is to emphasize the scope of the problem, explain it, and offer a list of valuable resources in one place in hopes that more parents and school districts will take up the challenge and insist that all schools provide a healthy learning environment,” adds Dr. Black.

“Reviewing and Refocus

Sponsored Recommendations

ASID Report Examines the Rise of Adaptive Reuse

Read on to see which CRE markets are benefiting and how are they riding the renovation wave.

The November IG Takeover: CRÈME Architecture & Design

Get to know founder Jun Aizaki and learn how you can host a takeover of your own.

The 2023 i+s Editors’ Holiday Gift Guide

It's back! Check out some of our editors' must-have gifts this holiday season, and come back throughout December for more.

Return to Work: Design Strategies & Amenities for Today's Office Environments

This digital resource offers expert advice on design approaches and amenities that are reshaping the workplace.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of I+S Design, create an account today!