Iredell / Statesville Schools
Indoor Air Quality Guidelines
A safe and healthy learning environment is critical to learning. Over the past several years many print articles and television programs have focused on the I.A.Q issue. In some cases severe and profound problems have been cited. The Iredell / Statesville Schools maintenance department has for the past three years focused on being proactive with respect to I.A.Q. issues. Research, workshop and training opportunities, local health agencies, state health agencies and industry experts have improved our knowledge in this critical area. When problems occur we have used these resources to develop solutions. The maintenance department has in place a team of experts and techs to address any problems of I.A.Q. A summary of our philosophy and process for dealing with I.A.Q situations follows.
A primary problem of any I.A.Q concern is how we define the limits of exposure. The best research indicates that the sensitivity levels for occupants vary greatly from person to person. Our philosophy is to take any complaint serious and begin with a site inspection. The inspection provides us with information to determine if additional preventive or corrective measures need to be taken. The process should always include the principal and teacher in the area of concern. In addressing mold exposure in buildings the Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology Branch (OEEB) recommends that departments follow the guidance provided in three documents. In our process we adhere to these guidelines:
1) The US EPA’s recent publication, Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings.
2) The New York City Department of Health’s Guidelines on Assessment and Remediation of Fungi in Indoor Environments.
3) The N.C. OEEB’s guidance document, Mold and Human Health.
I.A.Q. is comprised of several different parts. These include such things as particulate intrusion (dust, pollen, pet dander and others), microbial intrusion (typical childhood ailments), gases which enter the environment (natural gas, chemical smells, sewer gases, carbon monoxide etc.), fresh air exchange rates and mold and /or mildew (this could also be considered microbial).
1) Most intrusions into the environment come from the inhabitants of the environment or those passing through. These particulate and microbial intrusions come from home, work or outside areas. The best way to prevent or control these are:
A. Good hygiene ( this is a product of home and school education)
B. Good cleaning procedures by the custodial staff (Emphasis has been placed on improving this area)
C. Proper filtration of air (our techs check the fresh air and exchange rates)
D. Air filter change procedures (we have a 2 man crew responsible for preventive maintenance in this area)
3) Odors and gases may invade a space from a multitude of sources. We service equipment to ensure safe and efficient operation to help eliminate equipment as a source. We investigate any unusual odors to identify and eliminate the source.
4) Mold and mildew are the direct result of moisture. The key to controlling mold and mildew is control of the moisture levels in and around the environmental envelope. Our techs check humidity levels in spaces (we try to maintain below 60%), condensation during air conditioning seasons, plumbing leaks, roof leaks and drainage problems as soon as we are aware of the problem. An urgent priority is placed on any moisture problem. Our specifications for new construction and renovations have humidity control in spaces and use materials less likely to encourage moisture retention or migration. Where funding allows we are upgrading units to provide for humidity control in areas of greatest risk (i.e. media centers).
1) If we have a problem brought to our attention we initially identify which of the problems mentioned above we need to address. The first part of this diagnosis is to thoroughly inspect the area visually. A visual inspection will determine our course of action in most all cases. If no determination can be made by inspection then we complete a gas analysis of the area (in the past few years we have invested in detection equipment and have lead people in place to investigate situations). If we still cannot determine the source of the problem we will call on our outside agencies (i.e. Health Department) or contacts in the technical field for their expertise. If the problem persist we will contact some of our Environmental testing vendors to take air or other samples for testing further (this is usually rarely needed).
2) Once the source of the problem has been identified and eliminated a thorough clean up and inspection is completed. Surfaces are cleaned or materials removed and replaced.
3) The space is visually inspected again after the clean up. Follow up inspections and readings are taken for a period of several months after the problem subsides.
It is impossible to have a perfect environment. Controlling what is brought into an environment on persons or objects are very difficult. Equipment failure, fuel source failures, septic system failures, and leaks often cannot be anticipated until the event. Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present, and are in the air. Our best plan to provide the best I.A.Q possible is to be proactive and responsive to those situations we confront. More importantly we must educate and communicate with our schools and communities.