Why IAQ Should Be Prioritized in Schools
One of the silver linings of all of the pandemic-induced shutdowns over the past two-and-a-half years is the elevated focus on cleaning. Now more than ever, people who paid little to no mind to touchpoint disinfection, hand washing and other infection control efforts are deeply invested in insuring occupant health. While encouraging overall, one component of infection control remains overlooked in many facilities — especially schools.
Indoor air quality (IAQ), especially in schools and other educational facilities, is a significant factor in ensuring COVID-19 and other airborne diseases don’t permeate leading to potential outbreaks among occupants. As reported in an article by Forbes, the Center for Green Schools issued a report highlighting the importance of funding IAQ in educational facilities — both for the improvement of ventilation systems and the spread of general awareness of its importance among school staff.
The benefits of improved IAQ are not only health-centric, but they can improve morale and focus as well. Studies show a direct correlation between the quality of indoor air and the performance of tests scores from students, productivity of staff, and attendance averages. While the White House has expanded funding for the improvement of IAQ, it’s ultimately up to districts themselves to know how to best spend and budget it. For better or worse, decisions from districts are either dictated or at least heavily impacted by the overall preferences of those supporting it in the community.
Blueair, a company with expertise in air purification, says bad ventilation in a high number of American schools leads to high levels of PM 2.5, and PM10 pollution (particles that are directly linked to lung and heart diseases). High levels are resolvable, however by making structural upgrades to ventilation systems.
While these upgrades have long-term benefits, it can be difficult to rally enough support for an investment that significant upfront. For schools located near industrial plants or high-traffic roads, the need for enhanced ventilation is even more important. The key factor ultimately is so much agency key figures in school districts have when it comes to promoting IAQ improvement.
For related content, check out this recent article highlighting four benefits of strong IAQ.