Teachers have a significant role maintaining good air quality in classrooms. Below are a few tips for teachers that if followed can assist in maintaining or improving the air quality of classrooms.
Tip #10 – BLOCKING HVAC SUPPLY OR RETURN AIR DUCTS REDUCES AIR QUALITY
Classroom air supply systems are critical to the classroom environment. It is important that air systems are not manually turned on or off and are not blocked. Classroom air systems will not work properly when the system is even partially blocked. If there are issues with your air supply system, ask the front office to enter a work request for Building Services to address the issue on your behalf. If you are storing materials like the ones shown below finding alternate storage space will allow the system to better perform.
Tip #9 – MINIMIZE UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE AND STUFFED TOYS
Cloth furniture, stuffed animals, pillows and other such articles are reservoirs for allergens and asthma triggers. It is important to wash these types of materials out of the classroom or cleaned regularly to keep allergens to a minimum.
Tip #8 – PREVENT DUST ACCUMULATIONS
Dust can be a serious problem for asthmatics or others with upper respiratory sensitivity. Keeping clutter to a minimum will allow your custodian to take better care of your room. For instance, keeping stored materials in plastic boxes with lids allows them to be dusted. Your custodian takes good care of your room. However, the hygiene of personal items, media carts, computers and stored materials is the responsibility of the teacher(s) using or storing these items.
Tip #7 – ANIMAL DANDER IS AN ALLERGEN
Furry animals produce dander which can be both an allergen and asthma trigger. It is best not to have furry animals in the classroom. If animals are required for curriculum the cages should be cleaned on a daily basis and more sensitive children should sit on the opposite side of the room from the animals. Animal food should be stored in sealable vessels. You should never be able to smell the presence of the animals in your classroom.
Tip #6 – MASKING AGENTS PUT CHEMICALS IN THE AIR
Masking agents introduce substances into the air that may smell nice to some, but may be offensive or upper respiratory irritants to others. It is best not to use masking agents in classrooms. If there is a building related problem causing odors, the masking agent makes it harder to find the problem. There have been a number of response actions conducted by district personnel where simply removing the masking agents out of the building resolved staff and student upper respiratory irritation.
Tip #5 – USE THE WORK ORDER SYSTEM TO ADJUST HVAC SYSTEMS
It is important that classroom air systems are allowed to run as designed. Tampering with the air system not only impacts your room, but may start a domino effect that impacts other classrooms too. If your classroom is not within the accepted temperature range contact the front office to request support.
Tip #4 – USE BREAK ROOMS AND OR CAFETERIA TO PREPARE FOOD AND BEVERAGES
Do not store or prepare food in classrooms unless there is a specific medical or curriculum need to do so. Food spoils, attracts pests and should be prepared in appropriate spaces. Home appliances are not intended for use in school buildings and generally do not have the appropriate ASTM rating.
Tip #3 – PERFUME AND COLOGNE ARE UPPER RESPIRATORY IRRITANTS TO SOME
Perfumes, aftershave and colognes may be serious upper respiratory irritants. Reduce use to a minimum while at school to avoid triggering asthma attacks or causing upper respiratory system irritation.
Tip #2 – REPORT WATER EVENTS PROMPTLY
Report floods, water leaks, or water spots to the front office promptly. By reporting these issues early the initial problem can be addressed by Building Services before the moisture becomes a more serious event.
Tip #1 – EDUCATE YOURSELF WITH FREE MATERIALS DESIGNED FOR YOUR BENEFIT
Empower yourself to improve the indoor environment by reading up on IAQ at the USEPA Tools for Schools IAQ Website.