Back to all Project Ideas / Assess Indoor Air
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, people spend 90 percent of their time indoors, where pollutant levels can be from 2-100 times higher than outdoors. And the American Lung Association reports that asthma, which can be triggered by these pollutants, affects the lives of over 7 million children under 18 in the U.S. and accounted for 14.4 million lost schools days in 2008. Help improve air quality at a school near you.
Poor indoor air quality negatively affects the health and performance of students and faculty in schools, and an Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) walk-through is a vital step to jump-starting or maintaining a healthy school indoor environments program. Going through an air quality audit or checklist lets you identify possible sources of indoor and outdoor air pollution that have an impact on the health of your school community, specifically those living with asthma. After you recognize possible air quality issues, find out the ways you can reduce or eliminate exposure to these sources.
Measure your impact
Record decreased levels of CO2 and decreased absence due to respiratory illness. You can track your school's indoor air quality throughout the school year using Arc, the online, building performance platform, to inform you of any poorly ventilated areas. There are also many ways to demonstrate impact in this area that are not easily measured, such as awareness and action steps taken.
- Raise awareness in your school community about the environmental factors that can trigger asthma attacks. Learn about asthma triggers, make signs to post in your school, and spread the word throughout your school community that we can ease the burden of asthma in our schools.
- Download EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit for walk-through checklists, guides, problem-solving tools, and information about IAQ in schools. On a smaller scale, use the American Lung Association’s Healthy Air Classroom Checklist to identify any signs of indoor air pollution sources in a single classroom.
- Make the case and get permission from a school or campus administrator to do an IAQ walk-through of the building. Get their help in assembling your IAQ team, including faculty, staff, maintenance and facility personnel, health officers, and students
- Perform your walk-through inside and outside, according to the checklist tools, and share your findings from your walk-through with school officials and advocate for healthy IAQ solutions and programs in the school.
- Connect student learning with sustainability action. Learning Lab offers high-quality classroom content — over 450 lessons — for teachers from kindergarten to high school. The four-lesson module, "School Air Eco-Audit" is ideal for equipping students to lead an indoor air audit in and around the school. You can find more modules to educate students about indoor air quality by searching Learning Lab's catalog by theme, primary subject, grade or keyword.
- Educate school staff on what what supports or impedes healthy, resource-efficient and environmentally sustainable learning spaces. The Green Classroom Professional Course breaks down the different aspects of building sustainability, including indoor environmental and air quality, and identifies the effects they have on school occupants and the environment.
- Find more information from the American Lung Association about asthma and the sources that can trigger symptoms, and take a look at resources from Mom’s Clean Air Force that profile asthma triggers that could impact students and staff.
- Learn more about healthy indoor air quality for schools in the American Lung Association’s Asthma-Friendly Schools Initiative Toolkit or the EPA’s Healthy Indoor Environments in Schools website.
- Read about federal efforts and find additional resources from the National Asthma Education and Prevention Program.
- Watch the Northwest Clean Air Agency video, “School Walk-through: Identifying and Solving Common Indoor Air Quality Problems,” to see what a school walkthrough may include.