Indoor Air Quality Testing Reduces Asthma Triggers
Asthma affects students in classrooms each year. Certain triggers in the indoor environment cause asthma attacks that are severe enough to affect school attendance and cognitive performance. Unfortunately, a cure does not exist for asthma. However, there are medical treatments for the symptoms, as well as recommendations to identify and reduce asthma triggers.
A 2015 study on the association of cognitive function scores and the indoor environment found that building occupants exposed to better indoor air quality had increased cognitive function performance.
“We spend 90% of our time indoors and 90% of the cost of a building are the occupants, yet indoor environmental quality and its impact on health and productivity are often an afterthought,” said Joseph Allen, assistant professor of exposure assessment science, director of the Healthy Buildings Program at the Harvard Center for Health and the Global Environment, and lead author of the study. “These results suggest that even modest improvements to indoor environmental quality may have a profound impact on the decision-making performance of workers.”
If this is true for adult office workers, then it might also be true for children. In fact, children are oftentimes more sensitive to these triggers than adults.
Student absenteeism costs the state of Florida $228,557,676 per year. This breaks down to at least $1020 per absent student. There’s no doubt that absence related to asthma contributes to these numbers. If schools reduce asthma triggers, better attendance should follow.
Develop an IAQ Plan to Reduce Asthma Triggers
Both the CDC’s National Asthma Control Program (NACP) and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) recommend having a plan for improved asthma/allergen trigger reduction and IAQ in general. The first step to implementing such a plan is to identify and quantify the asthma triggers that are present in a school’s campus. It is also important to know that asthma sufferers might react to one asthma trigger or sometimes several triggers. So testing for many sources is key.
Common Asthma Triggers Found in Schools
Molds and Pollens
Dust and Dust Mites
Volatile Organic Compounds
An IAQ testing plan helps determine if any specific asthma triggers exist in the facility. A few different sample collection methods/tests help us understand the baseline and condition of the indoor environment. Culture (Bioaerosol), Non-Culture (spore trap analysis), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) locate allergens and triggers. Enzyme Immunoassay (ELISA) of air or dust samples do as well, but is time-consuming and costly. Do it yourself testing, such as the IAQ Screencheck Kits, are a quick and cost-effective way to reduce asthma triggers.
Most of the common asthma triggers are well known and can also cause allergic reactions, but VOCs deserve a more in-depth look at their connection. VOCs are organic chemicals. They exist almost everywhere. VOCs are both natural and manufactured compounds. These include indoor pollutants such as tobacco smoke, emissions from products used in the building such as office equipment, wall coverings/paint, floor coverings, and cleaning products.
After testing of the building and HVAC system, the reported data helps with recommendation on the best methods to remove/reduce asthma triggers. This can include Hygienic HVAC System/Duct Cleaning, Mold Remediation, and products such as permanent, on-site, Professional Air Purifiers.
Finally, the repetition of testing, and remediation is what creates a proactive Indoor Air Quality management plan. The result is healthier and higher-performing students, staff, and buildings.
For more information on our IAQ Testing Solutions, IAQ Equipment, and Professional Air Purifiers please call 1-800-422-7873.