I was called recently by a concerned parent. His school was undergoing mold remediation during school hours.
Also, the Shigella bacterium has closed several schools in the Birmingham area.
Just how safe are your children in their school, and how can you help to ensure that they are in a safe environment? By being proactive and asking questions.
The biggest problems regarding health in schools follow:
- Rodents and other pests
Mold can cause allergic reactions in many children, and can cause possibly deadly infections in those children who have weakened immune systems.
Bacteria can cause severe infections and many diseases. Medically resistant staphylococcus is an especially significant health issue in schools.
Pest and rodents cause many diseases and allergic reactions. A strong pest control program is important for schools.
Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the nation. Has your school conducted a couple of simple, inexpensive tests to ensure radon is not a problem to personnel and students?
Schools should apply a circular process of organize, communicate and assess, plan, act, and evaluate.
ORGANIZE by developing and determining your present situation and assets, designing a standard operating procedure, developing a training and reporting program, and determining a lead person.
COMMUNICATE goals, findings, and actions. The school should be absolutely transparent.
Assess the situation by standard visual surveys, listen to complaints, use technology and experts, identify and reduce risks, and determine baselines.
Plan action steps, goals, training, communication, and remediation.
Act includes training and education of staff and occupants, and solving the problems associated with the source of problems.
Evaluate means to determine how the process is working, then modify the process to be more efficient, economical, and productive.
Six technically oriented programs can result in healthy indoor air quality in schools, and healthier students and staff.
Quality HVAC—HVAC systems should be maintained regularly according to a plan. The plan should include proper ventilation and filter maintenance.
Control Of Moisture And Mold—The staff should perform routine assessments according to a plan, and should record their findings. Moisture problems should be promptly solved. Indoor humidity levels should be less than 50%, but should never exceed 60%.
Control Of Pests/Rodents—The staff or technician should regularly inspect and monitor, carefully use treatments and poisons as required, communicate uses of poisons, and mark areas of treatment.
Effectively Clean– cleaning should include periodic cleaning of high priority areas with proper agents to limit bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and the use of high efficiency filters on vacuums.
Careful Selection of low toxicity materials
Aggressive Source Control– When a source is found, control or remedy the problem immediately. Look for problems from traffic, use of hazardous materials, etc. Monitor and inspect often.