Contributor: Charlotte Flesher, Vice President of F.E. Moran
Writer: Sarah Block, Marketing Director of The Moran Group
A Federal Report found that 50% of U.S. schools have problems linked to poor indoor air quality. This could be the reason that 10% of U.S. children have asthma and that children's allergies have increased 69% since the 1990s (http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/05/02/food-skin-allergies-increasing-in-children/). Studies have shown that Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) has a direct correlation with respiratory health and allergies. The pollutants, humidity, and temperature control that adversely affect students in health, comfort, and ability to perform can be an issue of the past with proper HVAC maintenance.
Upward Trend in Children's Allergies
The growth of allergies and asthma in school-aged children has been astounding over the past decade. In a national survey of school nurses, 40% knew children and staff adversely affected by indoor air pollutants within the school. Take, for example, Joellen Lawson, a Special Education teacher in Connecticut. During her tenure as a teacher, she developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, leaving her with only 50% of her lung capacity. It was found that the cause of her ailment was the school building. It was so plagued with mold and other pollutants that it needed to be torn down and re-constructed (http://www.cnn.com/2012/01/14/health/school-indoor-air-pollution).
The increase in allergies and asthma has a profoundly negative impact on education. At this time, 1 in 10 children have asthma, and, on average, it results in missing 4 days of school each year. Asthma and allergy medications also impact the students' concentration. When they are taking antihistamines, nasal sprays, and asthma medications, the medicines make it more difficult to concentrate, resulting in poor educational retention. When a teacher is the victim of the pollutants, it still affects the student's education. By having a substitute teacher when the teacher is ill, the child's educational process is disrupted.
Increase in HVAC Maintenance Decreases Allergies
By updating the HVAC system and continuously maintaining the system, students and teachers will suffer less from allergies. With school budget cuts, oftentimes, rather than cutting staff, faculty, or educational resources, the maintenance budget is cut. However, by cutting the maintenance budget, schools are cutting their educational resources because students and teachers are absent more often and retain less. Less retention results in lower test scores, and consequently, reduces funding for the school. When a school district in Texas implemented an IAQ management plan to better the air quality, the school found that test scores increased 17.3% and brought daily average attendance to 97%.
A proper IAQ management plan is essential for all school districts. Controlled studies found that children performed school work better and with greater speed as ventilation increased; another study found that classrooms with higher outdoor air ventilation rates achieved higher scores on standardized tests in math and reading than students that were in poorly ventilated rooms.
In addition to ventilation, proper air conditioning and heating helped students with health and concentration issues. Cooler temperatures from a working air conditioning system resulted in a reduction in health issue symptoms and it increased concentration and grades.
With the right heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) system, schools will see an increase in attendance from both students and teachers; improved grades; and possibly even cost savings. Healthier teachers will result in reduced costs in health care; improved test results have the possibility of bringing an increase in funding. For the most effective HVAC solution, contact a service provider that can upgrade or install a new HVAC system and maintain the school's current system to guarantee the benefits of clean, temperature-controlled air continue to garner positive educational results year after year.