It is in the best interest of administrators to take steps to prevent asthma in schools. Jan/san distributors can play a big role in reducing this condition. In K-12 schools, asthma is the leading chronic illness affecting students, with one of 10 affected. The condition accounts for 13-14 million missed school days annually. Many of the environmental agents triggering asthma, also have been linked to other illnesses. Thus, by working to prevent asthma in schools, other ailments, including allergies, are reduced.
Steps to prevent asthma in schools can help to increase school funding. Since funding is typically based on attendance, preventing attacks is helpful to the school budget. Savvy distributors work under the belief that creating a healthier school pays.
The underlying causes of asthma are complex. The condition involves factors such as diet, environment, stress and genetics. While distributors have little chance of impacting diet, stress or genetics, they are able to reduce potential triggers related to keeping schools and surrounding environments clean.
Pollutants and other triggers often cause asthma attacks. Cleaning the air removes many of these airborne pollutants. Source capture, using the correct products is effective for use in schools.
Product Selection Help
As a distributor, you can promote products that work. Such products remove pollutants or stop them at their source instead of allowing them to be added to the environment where they are redistributed.
Floor mats offer passive cleaning, also known as source capture. The more mats that are added the better. They remove particles from the shoes of students and others entering the building before it enters the building to become an airborne pollutant.
The vacuums selected also play and important role. Both HEPA vacuums and models without HEPA filters offer effective means of capturing particulate matter. Design of the vacuum is more important than kind of filter.
The filters selected for the vacuum should be high quality. Often, OEM filters offer better particulate trapping than generics due to enhanced media quality that allows them to maintain airflow longer while trapping more dust. If in doubt, check test data to find the highest efficiency at removing small particles with a sustained airflow rate.
Provide your client with a vacuum maintenance log and encourage filters be changed and machines inspected regularly. A lack of maintenance can result in poor performance from the best of vacuums. Filters are cheap when compared to lung damage, health impairments or the labor needed to remove resettled dust.
Hard floors require more frequent cleaning as dust becomes airborne more easily. Use a vacuum with a brush attachment when practical to remove more soil than possible with a dust mop.
Either type of surface requires regular wet cleaning Clean flooring will attract and hold more dust with less release. Carpet extraction removes sticky residues. Hard floors benefit from auto-scrubbers where appropriate.
Vacuuming is also beneficial in removing dust from surfaces above floor level, including cubicle walls. In addition, microfiber and retentive technologies help to capture and eliminate dust and particulates. Even a damp rag is helpful at trapping dust instead of just redistributing it.
Staff and students should be encouraged to eliminate clutter in classrooms and public spaces. Such clutter provides additional hiding and distribution points for the dust. Eliminating such surfaces reduces the labor to decrease airborne dust.
Choosing Proper Cleaning Solutions
Cleansers have the potential to increase asthma symptoms. Products including bleach, phthalates, quaternary ammonium compounds and volatile organics should be limited. Look for appropriate alternatives.
Regular use of bleach base cleaning products has been linked to bronchitis, coughing, shortness of breath and other types of respiratory problems.
Phthalate, often found in fragrances, attaches to the dust inhaled by school children. Exposure to dust with high concentrations of phthalates increases the likelihood of a child suffering an asthma attack almost three times of that of children not exposed to high levels of this chemical.
Quats, often found in disinfecting products and floor cleaners also promote asthma attacks. These volatile ingredients are often found in kitchen cleaning or food service formulas along with furniture polish and other cleaners. They irritate one’s mucous membranes, contributing to respiratory problems.
There is a trend toward water only cleaning, which some schools are finding successful. Hard surfaces are cleaned using microfiber cleaning cloths and tap water alone. Tap water or electrically activated water are used in autoscrubbers for cleaning hard surface flooring. Electrically activated water is also the primary choice for general purpose cleaning as well as sanitizing. For tougher cleaning problems , steam vapor units are selected, ensuring even better cleaning along with disinfecting.
Dealers should consider IAQ walkthroughs with customers to identify problems affecting air quality and potential sources. In addition to helping schools pinpoint problem areas, such walkthroughs are opportunities for solution-driven sales. Check filters and vacuum cleaners for proper maintenance and cleaning problems. Look in janitorial closets for products that produce asthma and suggest less harmful replacements. Provide training concerning better cleaning methods to remove airborne as well as surface pollution from the buildings. Remind personnel how one cleans is just as important as the products used to clean. Bring particle counters to assess the number of particles in the air and check for dust retention in vacuum cleaners. The general guideline is that the indoor particle count should be half that found outside the building. In addition, these counters help to determine the effectiveness of the procedures toward dust containment currently in place.
CO2 meters are used to detect carbon dioxide students exhale into their classrooms. The measure is helpful in assessing indoor air quality, especially in relation to the potential triggers for asthma that build up in the classroom.
Carbon dioxide is easy to measure and a good indicator of the buildup of other airborne gases. Excess carbon dioxide indicates poor ventilation in a room or building and that other airborne contaminates may be building up in the building. Distributors who want to use these portable meters will find manufacturers offer training and guidance for interpreting their results. The information gathered encourages dialogue concerning HVAC systems. Moisture and relative humidity meters are used in determining if conditions favor growth of mold. Pad or pin moisture meters are used to measure the moisture levels in solid or semi-solid surfaces. Relative humidity meters measure the water content in the air in a room and indicate the potential for mold growth. If a problem is detected, personnel can take steps to reduce moisture or humidity and thus reduce the chances of growth of mold. Mold exposure is often a significant trigger for asthmatic episodes.
Distributors who help their customers to choose and maintain the right cleaning supplies improve the air quality of the school to prevent asthma in schools and increase attendance. Once the initial product assessment is completed, distributors follow up to ensure new products are being used properly.
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