IAQ Study of Schools in Relation to Flooring Types and Cleaning Processes
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), 20 percent of the US population (55 million people) spends a significant amount of time each day in more than 120,000 public and private schools. As a part of its review and assessment of the health and productivity benefits of green schools, 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” (National Research Council 2006). The California Air Resources Board (CARB) reached a similar conclusion in its report to the California Legislature on the quality of indoor air in that state (CARB 2005). Poor IAQ in schools can place millions of adults and children at risk for health problems, such as coughing, eye irritation, headaches, asthma, allergies, and more chronic diseases. Among those most at risk are the more than 6 million students who have asthma. Asthma can be life-threatening if not properly managed, and is the leading cause of school absenteeism and hospitalizations in children under the age of 15. Asthma accounts for an estimated 14 million lost school days and $16 billion in annual health care expenditures for both children and adults (AAAAI 2005).
Indoor air quality in schools is affected by a myriad of factors including ventilation, cleanliness, and sources and availability of pollutants. Pollutants that include dust particles, VOCs, mold, and biological allergens can originate from construction materials; furnishings; daily processes such as cleaning and photocopying; pets; animals; pests; and secondarily, by chronic presence of soil and moisture leading to the proliferation of dust mites and mold. This study evaluates the impact of flooring and its cleaning processes on indoor air quality and also measures the effectiveness of cleaning in achieving a long term reduction in pollutant load within a school environment.