The average American school building is 44 years old. Additionally, studies show that around 40% of schools in the United States operate with their air conditioning and ventilation systems in poor condition.
Furthermore, since the onset of COVID-19, many buildings have closed for long periods, meaning ventilation systems were not operating. Because of classroom shutdowns, empty buildings were left exposed to harmful moisture levels, increasing the likelihood of mold, mildew, and dangerous carbon dioxide and radon levels.
Therefore, maintaining and improving indoor air quality in schools must be a top priority. If gone unchecked, poor air quality can lead to the development of asthma, infectious diseases, and fatigue, creating an environment that threatens health and severely inhibits performance in the classroom.
Continuous monitoring is one of the best ways to guarantee adequate air quality in schools. Thankfully, modern smart technology and systematized monitoring devices provide revolutionary methods for tracking and controlling indoor air quality through continuous measurement of harmful particles and key IAQ metrics.
A Brief Overview of Air Quality Standards for Schools
The EPA provides extensive outlines regarding air quality guidelines for schools. Likewise, various indoor air experts recommended standards that apply to all indoor buildings, some offering specific tips for school buildings. These standards include things such as:
- Carbon dioxide levels - 400 to 1000 ppm
- Particulate matter - 35 μg/m3 per 24 hours
- Criteria for a room's relative humidity
- Minimum ventilation rates based on room sizes
However, schools are diverse regarding room size, lighting, ventilation conditions, temperatures, and humidity levels. These differences pose specific challenges to achieving proper IAQ. For example, areas of a school building often hold atypical air pollutants due to the presence of chemistry labs, art studios, or workshops.
Adhering to standards is vital to keeping students safe throughout the school day. Leaving these issues unchecked affects classroom performance and, over time, can lead to serious illness.
5 Ways To Improve Indoor Air Quality Throughout School Districts
While many schools operate under poor indoor air quality conditions, there are many efficient ways of improving air quality in schools. These methods range from installing sensors that process IAQ data in real time to purchasing specific devices for added filtration and purification.
1. Install an Air Pressure System
Pressurization is a critical element in maintaining good IAQ. Rooms that aren't adequately pressurized are more likely to experience heightened temperature shifts and uncomfortable moisture levels.
Installing an air pressure system controls how much air escapes and enters a building. Monitoring pressure strikes the right balance, optimizing comfort, energy costs, and moisture levels. Overall, pressuring the air in the school building is a significant additional step to solidifying the best possible IAQ.
2. Invest in Air Purifiers
Air purifiers are one of the best options when removing air pollution and harmful particulates. Purifiers work by filtering a room's air through a fine mesh. When air passes through the mesh, it traps things like pollen, pet hair, debris, and mold.
Adding an air purifier to every classroom significantly increases indoor air quality. The best air purifier type is HEPA, which stands for high-efficiency particulate air. These types can filter out particle that is as small as 0.3 microns. Additionally, air purifiers reduce the likelihood of lowering airborne sickness and viruses caused by bacteria.
Lastly, it's essential to get an air purifier with a good CADR (clean air delivery rate) and make sure it correlates to the size of the room it's placed in.
3. Service Your HVAC Systems
One of the first things to do when trying to boost indoor air quality levels is to ensure all HVAC units are working correctly. To do this, check for leaks and inspect filters. Then, change any dirty or damaged filters. It's also essential to ensure that the motor is strong enough to ventilate the indoor air at a proper speed.
HVAC systems must be serviced regularly to guarantee proper IAQ for the various temperature changes throughout the year.
4. Survey CO2 Levels in School Buildings
Carbon dioxide is always an acutely worrisome concern because, at higher levels, it is a potentially lethal gas that cannot be seen, smelled, or tasted. Therefore, having a systemic plan to monitor CO2 levels throughout a school building is vital to ensuring the safety of students and faculty.
5. Detect Additional Indoor Pollutants With an Air Quality Sensor
Advanced monitoring systems now enable tracking a wide range of indoor air pollutants via one manageable platform. In addition, investing in air quality sensors helps pinpoint all IAQ issues to the source. Not only does this work to avoid the short and long-term health effects of poor IAQ, but it also saves time and money by resolving issues quickly and before they worsen.
Start Making Improvements in Your School's Air Quality Today
Most school builds require serious decisive actions regarding air quality maintenance and monitoring. It's essential to keep a watchful eye on all areas, and schools pose unique challenges because of their wide range of room sizes, purposes, and equipment.
Therefore, installing air quality monitors for schools is one of the best investments to achieve and sustain safe air. Only then can you rest assured knowing the building's air keeps students healthy and allows them to perform to the best of their ability on any given school day.
If you want to learn more about the best air quality monitors for schools, visit Attune's website for expert insight on improving the conditions of your building. Their hyper-accurate sensor provides a real-time picture of indoor air quality, eliminating the need to wait to ensure that your home or building's air is safe.