Clearing the air: A model for investigating indoor air quality in Texas schools

Sharon A. Petronella, Rachel Thomas, James A. Stone, Randall M. Goldblum, Edward G. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

This pilot project focused on the assessment of indoor air quality at a local high school in Galveston, Texas, using methods based on guidelines for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program. Tools for Schools, developed for evaluating and ensuring acceptable air quality for schools, takes a low-cost, minimal-involvement, primarily educational approach. The authors also compared the findings from this approach with the results of an air-sampling program. The overall goal was to determine if use of Tools for Schools was sufficient to identify conditions with the potential to cause adverse health effects. The primary objectives were to 1) establish an indoor air quality committee for the school to implement Tools for Schools assessments and management strategies, 2) collect air quality data in high-risk areas identified within the school by the indoor air quality committee, 3) collect outdoor air quality data at or in dose proximity to the school, and 4) develop methods and instruments for assessing environmental risks associated with daily school attendance. Data were gathered on levels of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone, particulate matter (PM10), mold, relative humidity, and temperature. Data values for each sampled pollutant were compared with federal standards, recommended values established by the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists for non-industrial populations, and effects screening levels developed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Levels of all VOCs except formaldehyde were found to be well within guidelines, as were ozone and particulate-matter levels. Mold, however, was widespread, including both common species and species associated with allergy and asthma, such as Aspergillus and Alternaria. In general, Tools for Schools provides an excellent foundation for a school indoor air quality program, although the authors did find it necessary to streamline data collection and did find that mold with the potential for adverse health effects was present, albeit not visible in some areas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Environmental Health
Volume67
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2005

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Cite this

Petronella, S. A., Thomas, R., Stone, J. A., Goldblum, R. M., & Brooks, E. G. (2005). Clearing the air: A model for investigating indoor air quality in Texas schools. Journal of Environmental Health, 67(10), 35-42.