According to U.S. EPA, 20 percent of the U.S. population spend their days in elementary and secondary schools. Studies show that one-half of our nation's 115,000 schools have problems linked to indoor air quality. Students are at greater risk because of the hours spent in school facilities and because children are especially susceptible to pollutants. If students and teachers aren't healthy and comfortable, learning and productivity suffers, which in turn affects performance and achievement.
Schools can improve the indoor environment by systematically and aggressively addressing these technical solutions:
- Ensuring Quality Inspection, Operation, and Maintenance of the School's Heating, Ventilation and Air
- Active, Aggressive Control of Moisture and Mold
- Strong Integrated Pest Management
- Effective, Consistent Cleaning & Maintenance Activities
- Smart, Low-Emitting, Low-Toxicity Materials Selection
- Aggressive Source Control
What should you do if your school or your child's school has a problem with indoor air quality?
1. Learn about U.S. EPA's Indoor Air Quality "Tools for Schools" program at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/ At this link you can learn about indoor air quality, health effects, and how student performance is affected.
2. Talk to the school's principal. Describe the problem, giving dates and times of day, where possible. Ask if the school maintenance staff can investigate the problem. Volunteer to help the school coordinate an indoor air quality program. Visit EPA's website to learn how parents can work productively with schools to improve indoor air.
3. If the principal will not help, talk to the superintendent or facilities director. Ask a school board member to help if you are having trouble getting their attention.
4. If you do not get a response, contact the Indiana State Department of Health (317-351-7190), and ask them to conduct an inspection. If your school is in Marion County, you can contact the Marion County Public Health Department (317-221-2266).
According to IC 20-10.1-33, the Indiana State Department of Health is required to inspect schools for indoor air quality problems when it receives a complaint. As a result of the inspection, ISDH must produce a report and provide it to:
- the person who complained about the quality of air in the school;
- the school's principal;
- the superintendent of the school district, if the school is part of a school district;
- the Indianastate board of education, if the school is a public school or an accredited nonpublic school;
- the appropriate local or county board of health.
ISDH is also required to assist the school in developing a reasonable plan to improve air quality conditions found in the inspection.
See Indiana's Law on Indoor Air Quality in Schools at IC 20-10.1-33-3 for more details on the law.