Poor IAQ a concern in elementary schools

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Elementary Teacher’s Federation of Ontario (ETFO) recently voiced their concern on how poor indoor air quality (IAQ) and the heat and humidity in public elementary school classrooms is having an increasingly negative impact on learning and teaching conditions, as well as school safety.

“Elementary school classrooms are the least likely to be air-conditioned and high temperatures and humidity are taking their toll on teaching and learning conditions in a growing number of school classrooms,” said ETFO President Sam Hammond. “Poor indoor air quality is also contributing to mould and moisture damage which present serious health concerns for students and staff.”

Along with global warming, heat and humidity conditions have worsened in school classrooms because of issues such as window replacement that limits window opening, installation of classroom air handling units that move or warm but do not cool air, board-centred controls of classroom temperatures and aging, poorly maintained infrastructure.

During the first week of September, a school in Thames Valley was shut down following an inspection requested by ETFO because high humidity and temperatures had aggravated historical mould and air handling issues in the school.

Environmental concerns in school communities, including IAQ, was identified as a leading health and safety issue for ETFO members in the ETFO MOU Taskforce on Health and Safety Report and Recommendations.

“While installation of air conditioning is expensive, there are significant costs in not fixing the problem, added Hammond. “Teaching and learning conditions are compromised, there are negative health impacts for students and teachers including asthma, and mould and moisture issues can damage school infrastructure and materials.”

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