Your Role on the Indoor Air Quality Team
"It is more satisfying to spend time preventing illness than treating illness. A big part of my job is educating people
about health and wellness. The IAQ Tools for Schools Program provides a 'lesson plan' to use as we strive to
maintain a healthful environment for our students."
— Deresa Hampton, Nurse, Independence School District, Missouri
Indoor Air Quality and Health
The air quality inside your school affects the health and comfort of every student and staff member. The
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA's) Science Advisory Board consistently ranks indoor air pollution
among the top five environmental risks to public health. Poor indoor air quality (IAQ) is about more than just
comfort. It can cause or contribute to short- and long-term health problems, including asthma, respiratory tract
infection and disease, allergic reactions, headaches, nasal congestion, eye and skin irritations, coughing,
sneezing, fatigue, dizziness, and nausea.
As a school-based health professional—district health officer, nurse, hygienist, or dietician—you are responsible
for the health and well-being of staff and students. School nurses, in particular, can play a primary role in the
early detection of an IAQ problem when observing children who are sick. Illnesses due to poor IAQ may not,
however, produce easily recognizable symptoms. If multiple pollutants are involved, tracing the causes of the
student's discomfort or illness will be your challenge.
Improving IAQ can reduce the number of student visits to the nurse's office, reduce absenteeism due to illness,
and enhance the general health and well-being of all students and staff.
Ensure the Good Health of the Students in Your Care
You can help the students you care for by using EPA's one-stop resource for your school building's health—the
IAQ Tools for Schools Kit. The Kit gives your school a practical plan for protecting and improving indoor air and
explains your role on the IAQ Team. Your input can help the team identify the sources and types of indoor
pollutants. Specifically, the Kit features forms, checklists, and a Problem Solving Wheel that helps nurses link
health symptoms with possible IAQ problems.
The Kit also contains Managing Asthma in the School Environment, a guide with valuable information on how to
identify and control common environmental factors in schools that trigger asthma attacks. It includes an
"Asthma Action Card," which can serve as a daily asthma management plan. Indoor Air Pollution: An Introduction
for Health Professionals is available on EPA's Web site ( and provides an overview of acute
conditions, patterns that point to particular pollutants, and suggestions for appropriate remedial action.
Tools for Schools

Maintaining good IAQ in your
school means:
•	Controlling airborne pollutants
•	Bringing in and distributing
adequate outside air
•	Controlling moisture and mold
•	Maintaining acceptable
temperature and humidity
Sources of pollutants in and
around schools:
•	Radon
•	Classroom pets
•	Excess moisture and mold
•	Dry-erase markers and similar
•	Dust and chalk
•	Cleaning materials
•	Personal care products
•	Odors and volatile
organic compounds from
paint, caulk, adhesives
•	Insects and other pests
•	Odors from trash
•	Students and staff with
communicable diseases
Potential high-pollution
•	Science laboratories
•	Vocational arts areas
•	Copy/print areas
•	Smoking lounges
•	Food preparation areas
•	Pollen, dust, and fungal spores
carried inside on shoes and
•	Vehicle emissions or unsanitary
debris near building air intakes
•	Pesticides used on school grounds
•	Dumpster odors
•	Leakage from underground
storage tanks
The Issues
Indoor levels of air pollutants can be 2-5 times higher, and occasionally 100 times
higher, than outdoor levels. Nearly 56 million people, approximately
20 percent of the U.S. population, spend their days inside elementary and
secondary schools. In 1999, the National Center for Education Statistics of the
U.S. Department of Education reported that approximately 25 percent of public
schools described unsatisfactory ventilation, while 20 percent of schools told of
unsatisfactory IAQ. IAQ problems can cause discomfort and contribute to short-
and long-term health problems for students and staff.
The Solution
IAQ problems can be much less expensive and time-consuming to prevent than
to fix. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's IAQ Tools for Schools Kit
provides you with resources and checklists to help evaluate your
school's indoor air quality and prevent IAQ problems. The Kit also
offers easy steps for identifying and correcting current IAQ problems.
The Team
The awareness and effort of a team of individuals will help ensure
that your school improves its indoor air quality. The checklists in the
IAQ Tools for Schools Kit provide a thorough but simple means for all
IAQ Team members to participate, including the IAQ coordinator,
administrators, teachers and staff, facility managers, health
professionals, maintenance crews, and others.
The Rewards (in addition to good indoor air quality!)
By using the Kit successfully, your school will have the opportunity to:
•	Receive public recognition for
outstanding environmental
leadership through EPA's National
Awards Program.
•	Serve as a role model or mentor to
other schools.
•	Work with EPA to communicate
success through case studies.
Include your Web site link on EPA's
IAQ page so other schools can learn
from your IAQ efforts.
Backgrounder A Handouts for
Team Members
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Order the IAQ Tools for Schools Kit today!