Environmental Health

Dare to Clean Up the Air - Take Some Action

Quick Tips for improving general air quality

1. Don’t block airflow vents (by stacking books on vents or covering vents with posters)

2. Open windows and doors when weather permits, operate fans, and if you are using a window fan, open the vent control on it.

3. Allow ventilation when painting, paint-stripping, using stoves in home tech., or any custodial maintenance or classroom-activities using chemicals, such as dissecting animals preserved in formaldehyde.

4. Pay even more attention to proper ventilation in portable classrooms because many of them are constructed with formaldehyde pressed-wood products and in rooms such as the copy-rooms and restrooms.

5. Have your heating and air conditioning systems meet the minimum standards in local building codes. An ideal standard is laid out by the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Standard 62-1989.

6. Using an air cleaner can often help, but is surely not a complete fix, and you should be aware that they are not very effective at removing dangerous gases. Also, some table-top air cleaners are less effective than companies claim. A good air cleaner should have a high percentage efficiency rate meaning that it collects a high number of pollutants, and a high air circulation rate (expressed in cubic feet per minute). If you are interested in purchasing an air cleaner, we recommend that you read the EPA’s short guide about the different air cleaning technologies and their clean air rates. Then you can search for a specific product you want to purchase and view each product’s clean delivery rates and room capacities at this directory offered by the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

7. Vacuum high-traffic areas at least twice a week with vacuums that have a HEPA filtration system. These filtration systems are especially important for picking up lead dust without disturbing it.

8. Keep relative humidity below 55%, which can be done by properly using heating, air-conditioning, and dehumidifiers.

9. If you’re operating humidifiers in your school, make sure they are cleaned regularly according to the manufacturer’s directions and refilled with fresh water every day.

10. Prevent carpets and ceiling tiles from getting wet, and if they do get wet, clean and dry thoroughly within 24 hours or consider replacing them.

11. Custodians should use proper ventilation when using cleaning chemicals, make sure drain pipes are clean and not clogging, and control pest problems as soon as they occur.

12. Take action in the other environmental health sections because indoor air quality is affected by many different factors!

Quick Tips for keeping radon out!

Start by testing to determine how much risk there is before you even begin thinking about solutions. Keep in mind that test results could vary day by day and can be affected by which floor is being tested, and by barometric pressure and weather. Therefore, a long-term test will be more accurate than a short-term test, and the most important floors to test would be the basement and first two floors because they are closest to the ground: the source of radon.
Steps recommended by EPA

1. Complete a short-term test (Takes between 2 and 90 days)

2. If the result is 4 pCi/L or higher, then you are probably at risk and should take a follow-up test.

3. Choose to follow-up with a long-term test (over 90 days) if the result was between 4-8pCi/L. If the result was higher than 8pCi/L, you should probably only take a short-term test, so that you can begin solving the problems sooner.

You can purchase do-it-yourself test kits at many hardware stores and retail outlets, where you often complete the test yourself and then mail it in to the company to get your results. If you are not comfortable conducting the test yourself, click here and then click on the state your school is in for information on how to find a reliable and qualified professional in your area to do the testing for you. On the website, there is also information for ordering test kits online.

If your results after two short-term tests, or a short-term and long-term test, show that the radon level is consistently over 4 pCi/L, then click here for a guide on how to reduce the radon in your school.

The National Lung Cancer Institute states that the average cost of reducing radon depends on the size and design of the building, but averages $1,200.