The Opportunity to Transform School IAQ

Education | Infection Mitigation | Property Management | HVAC Equipment

The Opportunity to Transform School IAQ

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The Opportunity to Transform School IAQ

School districts nationwide have an unprecedented opportunity to upgrade HVAC systems and physical plants that could transform the quality of air students and teachers breathe.

All told, the federal government has allocated $190 billion in pandemic relief aid to help schools recover — more than four times the amount the U.S. Education Department spends on K-12 schools in a typical year.

A recent study from the LANCET COVID-19 Commission, “Designing infectious disease resilience into school buildings through improvements to ventilation and air,” identified some fascinating student health/performance outcomes that can result from better ventilation and improved indoor air quality.

Because so much of our focus this past year has been on reducing infectious disease transmission, it’s important to remember the far-reaching and multifaceted value of boosting indoor air quality (IAQ).

Some key findings from the report:

  • “It is imperative that pandemic relief for schools be applied to enhancements that are evidence-based, provide long term value, and do not create additional pollutants that may be harmful to the health of students, teachers, and staff.”
  • “In a study of 100 US classrooms, 87 had ventilation rates below recommended minimum standards.”
  • “Nearly one in 13 children in the US has asthma, which is triggered by indoor allergens commonly found in schools and is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to chronic illness.”
  • “In addition to decreased airborne infectious disease transmission, research shows that ventilation and air cleaning improvements are likely to lead to improved academic performance (in particular reading and math performance), fewer missed school days for students, higher scores on cognitive function tests, and many benefits for teachers including decreased respiratory symptoms, increased teacher retention, and improved morale.”
  • Other researchers have linked improved ventilation to better classroom attendance and student health. They propose that ventilation rates in elementary school classrooms not only meet but substantially exceed current ventilation guidelines.
  • “If improved ventilation and air cleaning through filtration is not possible, then other science-based technologies should be considered, such as in-duct germicidal UV lights or upper-room germicidal UV. UV technology has been well studied and utilized for decades to control transmission of airborne infectious diseases, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have provided guidelines for effective design and operation of such systems. This approach can be particularly cost-effective in larger spaces, or spaces that are not ventilated.”
  • “Inadequate outdoor air ventilation has been explicitly implicated in several large COVID-19 outbreaks across various indoor environments.”

Study researchers note, “there is an unprecedented opportunity to address a decades-long neglect of school building infrastructure, but also a significant risk of squandering funds on inappropriate, unproven and/or ineffective technologies.”

>>Read the FULL STUDY here.

posted  May 7, 2021