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Actions for School Maintenance Staff

Preventive actions taken by the school maintenance staff can reduce asthma triggers:

  • Some people with asthma are triggered by pollen. Keep pollen levels down by limiting grass and plant trimming to after hours, closing windows when pollen or pollution levels are high, and if possible, installing air conditioning in all classrooms. Click here to find an air quality index that is update hourly by Michigan's Dept. of Environmental Quality.

  • Use cleaning solvents or fumigate when school is not in session. Maintenance supplies may give off air contaminants during use and storage. Products low in emissions are preferable. However, a product that is low in emissions is not necessarily better if it is more hazardous despite the lower emissions, if it has to be used more often, or at a higher strength. Learn about your maintenance supplies and identify precautions regarding effects on indoor air or ventilation rates and requirements. Examples of maintenance supplies that may contribute to indoor air quality (IAQ) problems include:
    • Caulks
    • Solvents
    • Paints
    • Adhesives
    • Sealants
    • Cleaning agents

  • Cleaning classrooms on a regular basis helps to reduce the amount of dust and dirt in the school, including pollens and molds, which can cause allergic reactions.

    • Install barrier floor mats at each school entrance to reduce the amount of dirt and dust in the school. Mats should be cleaned daily.

    • Use high-efficiency vacuum bags that can retain dust and particles in the 3 micron size range or smaller.

    • Use a dust wiping technique that ensures the dust stays on the cloth. Avoid using a flicking motion when you wipe.

    • Vacuum dust from heating, cooling, and ventilation air return grilles, air supply vents and ceiling and wall surfaces regularly to remove visible dust.

    • Clean all flooring, including vinyl, wood, terrazzo, tile and carpet daily. Remove spots and stains as soon as possible, using the flooring manufacturer’s recommended techniques. Use care to prevent excess moisture or cleaning residue accumulation, and ensure that cleaned areas will dry quickly.

  • Mold and mildew can grow almost anywhere that offers a food source and a small amount of moisture, whether from leaks and spills or condensation. Mold and mildew spark many allergic and asthmatic symptoms.

    • Inspect the building for signs of moisture, leaks or spills. Check for moldy odors, discoloration on ceilings, floors or walls, and signs of water damage. Also, check cold surfaces, such as under windows or in corners formed by exterior walls, and areas where moisture is generated, such as locker rooms.

    • Respond promptly to problems you find. Clean and dry damp or wet building materials and furnishings. Work with manufacturers of furnishings and building materials to learn recommended cleaning procedures and/or identify competent contractors who can clean damp materials.

    • Prevent moisture condensation by adding insulation near cold surfaces (piping, exterior walls, etc.), raising the temperature of the air, improving air circulation in problem areas, and decreasing the amount of water vapor in the air.

  • Check regularly and use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) methods to control for cockroaches, mice and other pests. Pests can cause asthma symptoms in sensitive individuals.

    • Do not rely on widespread use of pesticides to control pests.

    • If pesticides are used outdoors, do not apply near outdoor air intakes for the ventilation system, doors or open windows. If unavoidable, shut down the affected ventilation system(s) and remove occupants until application has been completed and ventilation has been restored.

  • Drain traps can cause IAQ problems when water in the drain trap evaporates due to infrequent use. If the building interior is under negative pressure, soil gas or sewer gas can be drawn indoors through a dry drain trap.

    • Make sure all drains have drain traps, and make sure that all of the drains only you have access to are filled (pour about a quart of water down once per week, run water in sinks once per week).

    • Check water in seldom-used toilets once each week, if low, flush.