United States
                      Environmental Protection
                                Indoor Environments Division
                                Office of Radiation and Indoor Air
August 2000
                      CASE  STUDY
                     Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts
            Indoor Air Quality
             Tools for Schools
"Every school
 has a Healthy
 Schools Team
 dedicated to
 making their
 school safer
 and healthier.
 We received
 some great
 press from
 the Kit—
 the local
 wrote several
 articles about
 our Healthy
 Schools Team."
 -Robin Chappell
  District Health
            William Blackstone Elementary School, located in Boston's South End, is part of the
            Boston Public Schools system. Of the 120 schools in the system, three were chosen to
            implement EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) Kit and program. Of these
            three schools, Blackstone Elementary was the first to do so.

            Approach—Project  Description

            School Description
            The five-story school building was constructed in 1975 using the typical design of that
            time—brick walls, mostly flat roofs, plexiglass windows, and visible duct work. For
            years, indoor air quality (IAQ) was an issue at Blackstone Elementary.  The school nurse
            noticed that the asthma rate was higher than the national average of two cases per
            classroom. Staff were also aware of serious problems  with water intrusion during heavy
rains, stained and collapsed ceiling tiles, peeling paint and stains on the walls, rust on support beams,
and water damage to equipment and furniture.

IAQ Team
In January 1999, the IAQ Team at Blackstone Elementary was the most prepared to meet regularly to
implement the program. The school's IAQ team met six times from January to June 1999, using the IAQ
TfS Kit as the basis of their discussions. The Blackstone team consisted of school district officials, the
school principal, the school nurse, teachers, parents, custodians, and EPA regional staff.

The IAQ team and a ventilation engineer from the Boston Public Schools system conducted a
walkthrough inspection of practically every area of  the school.  School staff were given the appropriate
documents from the Kit, including checklists covering all areas of the building. About 80 percent of the
checklists were returned.

Problem Identification
Problems identified by the checklists and walkthrough included the following:

• An above-average number of asthma cases and illnesses typically associated with indoor air quality
  problems (headaches, nausea, etc.).

• Water damage, such as mold and mildew; missing, stained, and broken ceiling tiles; fungal growth on
  ceiling tiles; and damaged ceiling and wall plaster.

• Thermal discomfort, such as widely fluctuating temperatures, too high or too low humidity levels, and
  cold drafts.

• Ventilation problems, such as poor air circulation and lack of exhaust fans in some bathrooms.

• Cleanliness problems, such as dust accumulation around the supply vents and surrounding ceiling
  tiles, infrequent dusting and vacuuming, and pest problems.

Kit gave the
team the
leverage it
needed to
persuade  the
school district
to improve  the
problems in
the school.
Boston Public Schools, Massachusetts

Lessons  Learned

Short-term Improvements
Based on the information found in the walkthrough, the IAQ team brainstormed and identified specific
solutions for improving the indoor air quality at Blackstone Elementary School. In addition, EPA's
IAQ TfS Kit gave the team the leverage it needed to persuade the school district to improve the
environmental problems in the school.  Once the Superintendent was informed of the school's IAQ
issues and the team's recommendations, Blackstone Elementary was placed on a high-priority list for
roof repairs and other renovations.

A number of improvement projects have been completed, including roof repairs during the summer of
1999. Current plans call for installing new energy-efficient lighting and new ceiling tiles. Additionally,
carpeting will be removed and replaced with tiles in some classrooms.  The school nurse intends to
document student health and asthma cases over the next year to establish a link between the indoor
environment and children's health.

Long-term Practices and Policies
Blackstone Elementary is now in its second year of IAQ TfS  implementation and hopes to collect
information on the improved health of students and staff. Much of the credit for the school's progress
rests with the principal, Ms. Ruiz-Allen, who took over the project after the first meeting and
welcomed all ideas. She was instrumental in getting the Superintendent involved and ensuring that the
repairs were done quickly.  The presence of officials from EPA Region 1, the Boston Public Health
Commission, and Boston Public Schools at the meetings also proved key in Blackstone's success, as
these groups created a strong sense of purpose and assured the team that their IAQ problems were not
impossible to fix.
                      For more information, contact
                      Eugene Benoit
                      U.S. EPA Region 1
                      Phone: (617) 918-1639