Indoor Air Quality

What is Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is a term used to describe the quality of health and comfort of the air inside buildings.  Factors affecting Indoor Air Quality include temperature, relative humidity levels, airborne and surface contaminant concentrations, lighting, and noise.

Perceptions of IAQ for a building can vary per individual, due to preferences in humidity and temperature levels, along with sensitivities to biological and/or chemical contaminants.

What Affects IAQ in School Buildings?

IAQ is a product of several factors, including ventilation system operation, the presence of contaminant sources, and building occupant activities.

  • Most of Albemarle County Public School's offices and classrooms are served by heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems. HVAC systems control indoor temperatures by supply in heated or cooled air. These systems are designed to remove airborne contaminants by providing a continuous supply of filtered outdoor air.

Contaminant Sources
  • Indoor air contaminants can adversely affect the health and/or comfort of the building occupant.  A few common indoor contaminants include dust, pollen, fungal particles, bacteria and viruses, emissions from cleaning and maintenance products, animal-derived substances (insect and rodent feces and carcasses), and emissions from educational chemical products (paints, adhesives, photographic chemicals, ceramic materials).

Occupant Activities
  • Indoor air contaminants can be generated by various types of occupant activities, such as maintenance and repair work, construction, painting, housekeeping, art and science activities, and office work (copying, printing).

Why is IAQ important for Albemarle County Public Schools?

"Good IAQ contributes to a favorable environment for students, performance of teachers and staff, and a sense of comfort, health, and well-being.  These elements combine to assist a school in its core mission -- educating children." --EPA

What has Albemarle County Public Schools Done to Improve IAQ in its Buildings?

Environmental Compliance Manager
  • In August 2004, Albemarle County Public Schools hired an Environmental Compliance Manager to manage all environmental compliance issues and to develop an Environmental Management System (EMS).
  • The Environmental Manager investigates, documents, tracks and follows-up on all work order-reported indoor air quality concerns and issues.  The Environmental Manager maintains records of all investigated issues in an electronic Indoor Air Quality file.  Additionally, the Environmental Manager has received certification from the National Association of Certified Mold Professionals, and is qualified to investigate and evaluate indoor air quality-related concerns and issues.
Preventive Maintenance
  • Mechanical Room Cleanouts - In June 2005, Building Services began the process of cleaning the mechanical rooms at our schools in order to improve the overall indoor air quality in buildings.
  • Routine Filter Replacement - All air filters are on a regular schedule for replacement.  Filter replacements are tracked school-by-school electronically, and records are maintained in Building Services.

EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools

To help combat indoor air quality problems, EPA has created the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Kit.

As Albemarle County Public Schools progresses with its Environmental Management System (EMS) implementation, we are planning to include goals and objectives that will incorporate Tools for Schools kit items into our continually developing Indoor Air Quality program.

Related Links and Information

Questions & Concerns:

If you have general questions or concerns about Indoor Air Quality in your school, please contact Building Services at (434) 975-9340. You can also call us to report a specific Indoor Air Quality concern, observation, or issue.