Maintain Healthy Indoor Air Quality at School with Proper Ventilation
The return to school each fall is an exciting time, but it can also be a challenge for school administrators and facilities managers. After a long summer break, buildings can become stale and dusty, leading to poor Indoor Air Quality (IAQ). This can lead to a variety of health problems for students and staff, including:
- Asthma attacks
- Respiratory infections
- Eye, nose, and throat irritation
- Reduced cognitive function
- Increased risk of infection
Ventilation is essential for maintaining healthy IAQ in schools. It helps to remove pollutants from the air, such as dust, pollen, mold, and viruses. It also helps to cool and humidify the air, making it more comfortable for occupants as they get through the school day.
High-quality air filters go hand in hand with effective ventilation. Filters in your HVAC system trap the same pollutants that you are hoping to ventilate out of your indoor air. Install the best quality filters you can without reducing airflow, and make sure they are the right size and properly placed.
You can also use separate air filtration devices with HEPA and MERV filters to enhance the air cleaning provided by your HVAC system.
Effective ventilation in schools can lead to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism as students and staff feel more comfortable inside and reap the health benefits of clean air. And according to research, good ventilation positively impacts thinking.
Harvard University’s P.H. Chan School of Public Health has found higher ventilation rates correlate with higher levels of cognition. Teachers in one study reported an average of 5% decrease in “power of attention” in their students in poorly ventilated classrooms. Another study of 100 elementary school classrooms found that each 1-L/s/p increase in ventilation rate was associated with an expected increase of 2.9% and 2.7% in math and reading scores, respectively.
No matter what type of ventilation and filtration system a school uses, it's important to maintain it well. Filters should be changed regularly, and fans should be cleaned and lubricated. Regular walkthroughs from a qualified HVAC technician can help to ensure a consistent maintenance schedule. Facilities managers should also monitor the IAQ in the building to ensure that it meets current ASHRAE standards and adjust your equipment accordingly.
Here are some additional tips for improving ventilation in schools:
- Open windows and doors whenever possible.
- Use fans to circulate the air, especially in large, open areas
- Install air purifiers in classrooms and other areas where students spend a lot of time.
- Keep the HVAC system clean and well-maintained.
- Maintain cleanliness to reduce sources of pollutants from the air, such as dust, pollen, and mold.
Taking steps towards improving ventilation in your school is a powerful investment in the health and education of students and a comfortable work environment for faculty and staff. A knowledgeable manufacturer's representative can help you determine what equipment and systems will improve your building’s ventilation.