We’ve already been back to school for 2 weeks at my house, but this week all the after-school activities kick in, too. Many districts in California are starting school today and of course everyone has mixed feelings. It was nice to have the kids at home and make some happy memories during our summer together, but it’s also fun to take on some new challenges and learn new things.
All right, the kids are complaining about homework already, too, but what can you do.
Parents, however, need to know first of all that their children are safe and well-cared-for during the long schooldays. After all, their children are going to spend a lot of hours in the school environment for the next 9 months. So let’s talk about the indoor air at school.
What can contaminate the air at school?
Many of the same substances that plague our indoor air at home can affect the quality of the air at school, including:
- Volatile organic compounds from paint, adhesives and cleaning products
- Car exhaust not escaping once it gets in
- Pollen from plants on campus
- Air fresheners
- Personal fragrances
- Hand Sanitizer
There are things that both parents and teachers can do to make the indoor air at school safer and today we will tackle teachers.
What can teachers do to improve the indoor air in their classrooms?
1. Open the windows–Although it is too hot this week to keep classroom windows open and let all the air conditioning out, that will soon change. Let some air in to move some of the contaminants collecting in your classroom out.
2. Don’t block the ducts–Classrooms today are crowded with people and materials, but make sure you don’t put anything in front of the vents or ducts that help keep the air circulating throughout the building.
3. Keep the classroom clean–Especially in elementary school, pillows and carpets used for “storytime” and similar activities can get dirty, dusty and even harbor dust mites.
4. Report leaks immediately–If your classroom has a leak or any water damage, be sure to get it fixed before a mold problem can take root. Mold spores are everywhere, just waiting for a damp spot to make their home.
5. Classroom Pets can trigger allergies or asthma–If you have a pet in your classroom, be sure to keep its enclosure scrupulously clean. Dander can affect any child who is allergic and make it more difficult for them to learn.
6. Minimize air fresheners and other odor concealing products–Hey, I have a 6th Grade boy myself and I know how redolent a classroom can get by the end of the day! But air fresheners are adding pollution to your indoor air and just masking the less pleasant odors. Encourage the children to wear (unscented) deodorant and try to resist the impulse to spray!
On Thursday we will give parents some tips for improving the indoor air for their students and the wonderful teachers who help them so much.
HAPPY NEW SCHOOL YEAR TO ALL!
Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek and our environmental services division Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!