Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Agassiz air quality needs improvement

A report by the Massachusetts Department of Health details indoor air quality problems at the Agassiz elementary school. Staff had reported headaches and respiratory issues, and students have a higher-than-average asthma rate.

Carbon dioxide levels at several areas in the school exceeded 800 parts per million, indicating inadequate ventilation. A CO2 level of 600 ppm or less is recommended in schools.

The building also appears to have poor insulation, leading to temperature fluctuations. Because of this, condensation can form on the inside of windows. Over time, this has led to mold growth and rot of wooden window sills in some areas of the building.

The fan units in classrooms aren’t cleaned often enough, or are in disrepair, providing a chance for microbes to grow.

Also, they observed standing water in one classroom.

The school also has a rodent problem.

The report says, “According to [the Bureau of Environmental Health’s] physician, several of the [indoor air quality] conditions observed may contribute to eye or respiratory irritation; these include low levels of humidity, the presence of particulates, [volatile organic compounds] and dust, and conditions conducive to attracting rodents. The five cases reviewed show one commonality, rhinosinusitis (a condition involving inflammation in one or more of the paranasal sinuses) symptoms. Typically, rhinosinusitis is the result of irritation, allergic reaction, or infection.”

The report lists a series of short-term and long-term recommendations. I really hope BPS follows through with them. I've never visited this school, but this doesn't seem like an environment that's conducive to learning.

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