THE PROBLEM OF ASTHMA AND ALLERGENS IN SCHOOLS
Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing can identify asthma and allergen triggers in schools. As a result, testing helps administrators develop plans to reduce triggers, asthma attacks, and lower operating costs. With fewer triggers, children miss fewer days of school which costs states millions of dollars every year.
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases that afflict children. Asthma and allergens in schools affect the performance and attendance of students. While there is no cure for asthma, there are ways to treat the symptoms and there are recommendations to identify and reduce agents that act as asthma triggers.
The High Cost of Asthma and Allergens
A 2015 study on the association of cognitive function scores and the indoor environment published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that occupants exposed to less volatile organic compounds (VOCs) had increased cognitive function performance.
According to the Florida Department of Education, student absenteeism costs the state $228,557,676 per year. Florida schools can lose at least $1020 per chronically absent student. Asthma-related absences contribute to these numbers.
In addition to missed school days and under-performing students caused by asthma and allergens in schools, poor air quality also leaves students and teachers feeling fatigued. This makes concentration more difficult and that causes additional problems. For example, when children can’t concentrate they may act out in ways that disrupt other students. Of course, this impacts the learning of their classmates as well as their own.
Make an IAQ plan to Identify and 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 improving IAQ and asthma/allergen trigger reduction. The first step in developing an IAQ plan is to identify and quantify the asthma triggers that are present in a facility. It is important to also recognize that people with asthma might react to one trigger or sometimes many triggers.
Common Asthma and Allergen Triggers in Schools
- Dust Mites
Do-it-yourself IAQ Test Kits are an easy way to test for asthma and allergens in schools. For this reason, Building Health Check, LLC, provides a variety of specific IAQ Screen Check kits to meet this initial inquiry. In fact, there are IAQ Screen Check kits for Mold, Allergens, and Dust Mites and these testing kits are simple to use. Follow the instructions to collect the samples, fill out the chain of custody, and mail into the lab. After testing, the resulting report lets school officials know if the trigger is present and gives the basic summation of how much or little there is of it in the area sampled. Should the results show elevated levels of a certain trigger, then the next step would involve a professional assessment.
Once the building and HVAC system gets tested, the resulting data is then used to recommend methods for removing or reducing asthma and allergens in schools. These methods include Hygienic HVAC System/Duct Cleaning, Mold Remediation, and hard products like Professional Air Purifiers.
After addressing the issue of asthma and allergens in schools, the work is not over. For example, it is repeat testing and remediation on a regular basis that helps sustain the Indoor Air Quality management plan so children perform better and both students and staff stay healthy.