The Science Journal of the American Association for Respiratory Care

2011 OPEN FORUM Abstracts


Kathleen Hernlen, R. Randall Baker, Whiddon Susan; Respiratory Therapy, Georgia Health Sciences University, Augusta, GA

Background: The asthma death rate in the East Central Health District (ECHD) of Georgia is significantly higher than that for the state and national death rates for children. A 2009 survey assessed the status and priorities for implementing asthma management strategies in ECHD schools using the National Heart Lung Blood Institute's "How Asthma Friendly is Your School" survey. Forty-one of the 112 (36.6%) schools returned the surveys. Only 14% of the schools reported having a written IAQ management plan. The purpose of this study was to assess schools for IAQ deficits and assist in the development and implementation of IAQ management plans. Methods: Superintendents of the seven school districts that participated in the 2009 study were asked to participate in this project. Three superintendents chose to participate and suggested a school from their district that had either a high number of asthmatic students or known air quality problems. The EPA's "IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit" was selected to help the schools identify, correct and prevent IAQ problems. An initial walk thru of the school to identify deficiencies in IAQ caused by lack of cleanliness, pollutant sources, fragrances, air temperatures, humidity and CO2 levels is essential. An IAQ walk thru team was formed at each school. The team consisted of the principal, representatives from the maintenance, custodial or physical plant and GHSU investigators. Results: The CO2 levels were higher than recommended by the American Association of Heating Refrigerating and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) in a significant number of the class rooms in each school. The causes for these increases included dirty filters, blocked air vents and ventilation systems that were turned off. IAQ problems included dust; ventilation problems; use of fragrances such as cleaning products or air fresheners in the class rooms; and items that harbor dust mites, dust and pollen such as curtains, stuffed animals, or rugs. See Table 1. Conclusions: The principals of each participating school have implemented policies to address the increased CO2 levels. A recommendation has been made to one school system to change the filters in the ventilation system more frequently and to use HEPA filters on the vacuum cleaners. The three schools will no longer permit unauthorized fragrance or cleaning products in classrooms. One school system has adapted an IAQ management plan that includes the use of green products only.
Sponsored Research - W.G. Raoul Foundation
Class Rooms with IAQ Issues: A Comparison of Three Schools