As health and safety are primary concerns in schools, it is no wonder that initiatives are being taken to improve the air quality in schools across the US.
In 2011, the United States Department of Education introduced a Green Ribbon Schools award that honors schools and districts that are making changes in reducing our ecological footprint, improving the health and wellness of students, faculty, and staff, and providing effective environmental and quality sustainability education. This initiative includes a focus on indoor air quality.
In addition to recycling and using non-toxic natural cleaning products, how does your child’s school measure up when it comes to indoor air quality? Furthermore, what can you do to team up with educators to spread awareness about the importance of air quality in schools? Here are 6 ways you can find out if the indoor air quality at school is safe for your child:
#1 – Listen to your child
If your child has asthma and is complaining of having problems breathing at school, it’s time to meet with your pediatrician and come up with an Asthma Action Plan. This proactive plan helps determine what is triggering your child’s asthma, prescribe medication if necessary, and educate you on what to do if your child is in a state of attack. Take action at home first by establishing an environment full of clean air. Remove excessive amounts of stuffed animals, cover mattresses with dust mite mattress covers, and vacuum with a High-Efficiency Particulate Absorption (HEPA) filter. It is also imperative that you keep a steady level of humidity in the air and wash it free of allergens – a Venta Airwasher can help.
After you put this action plan into effect at home, be sure you share this information with your child’s teacher and educational institution as most of his/her day is spent in school.
#2 – Join the PTA (Parent-Teacher Association) or PTL (Parent Teacher League)
Getting the inside scoop on what is going on behind the scenes and how to enrich the life of your child at school is the business of the PTA. This includes inquiring about indoor air quality. Attend meetings and ask questions:
- How are we using the EPA Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Action Kit?
- What kinds of cleaning products or pesticides are we using in class and around the school grounds?
- What kind of ventilation is provided at my child’s school? Is there regular maintenance?
- If there have been recent aesthetic improvements taking place at the school, what measures has the administration taken to ensure my child’s indoor air quality is not at risk while the renovations are being completed?
#3 – Check out Green Seal
Green Seal is a non-profit organization that promotes a more sustainable economy and highlights the manufacturing, purchase, and use of environmentally responsible products and services. They provide a list of green seal-certified cleaning products, paints, and cleaning services that will give any parent or educational provider peace of mind that indoor air cleanliness is not being disturbed by toxic products.
#4 – Get a peek into the classroom
Are there air fresheners in the room? Are vents obstructed by desks or other items? Teachers should limit the number of items made of cloth or stuffed animals in the classroom, which promotes the collection of dust mites, which may trigger allergy symptoms.
#5 – Donate cleaning products
If your school accepts donations, provide cleaning products like Ecolab and Simple Green, or products that adhere to the approved standards of the school.
#6 – Ask
Do not hesitate to reach out to administrators to obtain information about indoor air quality at your child’s school. Reach out to your child’s teacher and ask how he/she is spreading the word about indoor air quality.
At home, you control the environment and focus on providing good nutrition and purified air for those in your family who suffer from allergies and other upper respiratory sensitivities. Becoming familiar with the environmental standards and practices of your child’s school will give you peace of mind knowing their mind and body are being cared for and nurtured even away from home.