Air Quality Guidelines
The California Air Pollution Control Officers Association has released air quality guidelines for schools. These guidelines will help school officials determine what to do in the event of a smokey day. Last year, more than 40 school districts in Sonoma County canceled classes and some had to close for weeks. The guidelines are intended to be practical and inexpensive. They provide guidance to the building owner and general manager on how to improve the air quality of schools.
The new California air quality guidelines for schools do not set a threshold number for campus closure, but are meant to start local discussions. For example, the Sonoma County Office of Education encouraged districts to close schools if the air quality index reached 275. That’s about three-quarters of the “very unhealthy” level. Parents complained that the standards exposed children to dangerous conditions and that the government should do more to protect the public health.
The guidelines also highlight some of the most common pollutants found in school buildings. In many cases, air pollution is so high that the students or staff could experience a severe asthma attack or a deteriorated immune system. While the state of California’s air quality is much better than the federal standard, schools must still keep students and staff safe from harmful indoor pollutants. These guidelines also outline acceptable temperatures and relative humidity. Good IAQ contributes to student health and comfort and supports a school’s core mission. In addition to the air quality, thermal comfort can also impact a building’s indoor contaminant levels.
Air Quality Guidelines For Schools
The guidelines do not set a threshold number for campus closures. Instead, they provide a baseline for discussion among school districts. Sonoma County Office of Education has been encouraging districts to shut down schools when the air quality index reached 275 ppm, three-quarters of the “very unhealthy” level. This prompted parents to complain that the standards were unhealthful and exposed their children to dangerous conditions. The new guidelines were adopted in Butte County, California.
The guidelines also include information about the causes of IAQ in schools. For example, schools may need help identifying IAQ problems, implementing solutions, and educating students about the risks of pollutants. Additionally, it is essential to maintain an appropriate temperature and relative humidity in a school building. A school’s IAQ contributes to a healthy environment and helps the school fulfill its core mission. However, temperature and humidity are also factors that affect air quality.
The guidelines for schools do not mention a threshold for closing schools. In reality, these guidelines are meant to encourage local conversations. The Sonoma County Office of Education encouraged school districts to shut down schools when the air quality index was 275, about three-quarters of the way into the “very unhealthy” zone. The state’s air quality standards are still not considered mandatory in the federal government. It is up to the school district to decide what’s best for its students.