Ask the Expert

Indoor Air Quality

Indoor air quality (IAQ) is a critical issue for school facility leaders. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states about 50 percent of schools in the U.S. have IAQ complaints. These complaints could include odor issues and high concentrations of allergy and asthma triggers, and they affect the well being of teachers, staff and students every day.

The best practices for improving IAQ include source control, ample ventilation and air purification. All are necessary to reach optimal results and rely on each other for balance.

Increasing ventilation keeps carbon dioxide levels low, but can also accelerate the spread of germs and other contaminants. Limiting the sources of contaminants as much as possible reduces exposure and puts less wear and tear on your air purification system, but is not a solution for removing pollutants entirely. Air purification with true HEPA filtration removes up to 99.9 percent of contaminants from the air and can be used to address areas with higher levels of contaminants.

In sum, source control and ventilation are often school-wide initiatives, while air purifiers are a more targeted and effective approach to providing cleaner common areas.

Schools see the most benefits from enacting a comprehensive IAQ plan that includes all three of these components. Research shows that improving IAQ in educational facilities yields a big return, including higher productivity, reduced absenteeism and improved academic performance.

This article originally appeared in the March 2016 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Jeff Dryfhout, global marketing director for AeraMax Professional, champions efforts to improve indoor air quality within organizations as the next frontier in well being.

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