All students and school employees have the right to a great public school that fosters a safe and healthy learning and work environment – and that includes Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ).
Poor IEQ is caused by a variety of harmful factors, including: mold, poor ventilation, chemicals, extreme temperatures, asbestos, and other pollutants that negatively impact the health and achievement levels of all building occupants. Given that students and staff spend a good portion of the day and sometimes evening in a school building, this environment should be one of superior IEQ.
Symptoms of Poor IEQ:
Indoor air problems can be subtle and do not always produce easily recognized impacts on health and well-being, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Symptoms can include:
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus congestion
- Irritation of the eye, nose, throat and skin
3 Reasons to Pay Attention to IEQ at School
- Poor IEQ adversely affects the health of building occupants.
This is particularly true for individuals with asthma, allergies and medically fragile students. This can lead to increased absenteeism, and directly impacts staff performance and job satisfaction, and of course, student achievement.
- A lot of people spend their days in schools.
20 percent of the U.S. population spends their days in elementary and secondary schools, according to the EPA. That’s around 55 million people! And, most people spend 90 percent of their time indoors. Finally, according to the EPA, “the developing bodies of children might be more susceptible to environmental exposures than those of adults. Children breathe more air, eat more food and drink more liquid in proportion to their body weight than adults. Therefore, air quality in schools is of particular concern.”
- It’s something that can be fixed.
Whether it is cleaning-up or retrofitting old schools or building new schools that meet LEED Standards, to provide the best learning and work environments for our students and school employees, IEQ must be addressed.
You can advocate for yourself and your students. Use the below helpful links to learn more about indoor environmental health, and what can be done to improve it in your school:
From the EPA
- Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality in Schools
- A Guide to Implementing an IAQ Indoor Air Quality: IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit
- Take Action to Improve Indoor Air Quality in Schools for Educators and Staff
From NEA Healthy Futures