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IEQ Survey

IEQ Survey of NEA Members Completed

About the Survey

Mold, poor ventilation, temperature extremes, and chemical exposure…sound familiar? A random sample of NEA members nationwide participated in a survey about Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) in schools in January 2013. The survey was conducted by NEA and the NEA Health Information Network (NEA HIN) in response to a new business item (NBI) passed at the 2012 NEA Representative Assembly.

The purpose of this survey was to assess the IEQ conditions of schools nationwide, its impacts on student and staff health and attendance, administrator and affiliate support, and policies that are in place to address IEQ.

About IEQ

Studies show that poor IEQ can negatively impact the health and performance of students and staff. IEQ refers to the temperature and humidity of the air, the ventilation or fresh outdoor air being brought into a space, and the chemical and biological pollutants present in the air. Learn more about IEQ at http://www.neahin.org/health-safety/environmental/ieq.html or visit http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/  to learn about EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools program.

The spring issue of NEA Today features a story on the impacts of poor IEQ and other hazardous conditions in a school in Reading, Pennsylvania. It also includes steps to take when your school has poor IEQ – organize! Read it at http://neatoday.org/2013/03/13/aging-schools-create-dangerous-and-fragile-learning-environments/

Survey Findings:


General

Exposure to
IEQ hazards/contaminants

Reporting IEQ and Health
 IEQ-related Symptoms Missed Days Policies and Programs


Administrator Support

Training and Capacity


Barriers to Implementing Good IEQ Practices or an IEQ Management Plan


Collective Bargaining  


 General

  • 62 percent have experienced IEQ problems at school.
  • 94 percent said IEQ issues are important to them.
  • 51 percent said they are somewhat knowledgeable about school IEQ.
  • 31 percent said they are moderately prepared to respond to an IEQ issue at their school. (Such as reporting a leak, investigating a moldy smell, etc.)

 Exposure to IEQ hazards/contaminants (not all that we asked about are listed below)

  • 49 percent reported being exposed to lack of air circulation/stuffy air.
  • 47 percent reported being exposed to temperature extremes that are too hot or too cold.
  • 46 percent reported being exposed to mold or moisture problems from high humidity, leaks, condensation, standing water, etc.
  • 38 percent reported being exposed to dust/soot in the air or on surfaces from construction/renovation processes, vehicle exhaust, air vents, etc.
  • 34 percent reported being exposed to carpet pollutants such as the buildup of dirt/dust, mold, moisture, etc.
  • 27 percent reported being exposed to asbestos from damaged or disturbed materials sometimes used in pipe wrapping, vinyl asbestos floor tile, ceiling tiles, roofing materials, etc.
  • 27 percent reported being exposed to pests such as the body parts, feces, dander, and nests of rodents, insects, birds, etc.
  • 25 percent reported being exposed to chemicals from cleaning and maintenance products and equipment such as all-purpose cleaners, disinfectants, floor strippers, paint, degreasers, etc.
  • 24 percent reported being exposed to chemicals from fragrances in perfumes, aftershaves, or other personal care products; air fresheners; candles.
  •  18 percent reported being exposed to sewer gas or “rotten egg smell” from dried out drain traps or improperly vented plumbing.

 

 Reporting

  • 63 percent reported IEQ contaminants to school administrators.
  • 32 percent reported that their school administrators were supportive.
  • 16 percent reported IEQ contaminants to their local association leadership.

 IEQ and Health

  • 51 percent believe IEQ issues affect their health.
  • 53 percent believe it affects the health of their students.
  • 54 percent said they feel better and/or don’t experience IEQ-related symptoms over extended holiday or summer breaks.
  • 42 percent said they have sought medical treatment for IEQ-related symptoms.

 IEQ-related Symptoms (not all that we asked about are listed below)

  • 63 percent reported experiencing allergy-like symptoms
  • 34 percent reported experiencing a cough
  • 43 percent reported experiencing eye/nose/throat irritation
  • 28 percent reported experiencing fatigue
  • 45 percent reported experiencing headaches
  • 22 percent reported experiencing hoarseness/change in voice
  • 36 percent reported experiencing nasal congestion
  • 15 percent reported experiencing respiratory infections
  • 36 percent reported experiencing sinus infections
  • 35 percent reported experiencing sneezing

 Missed Days

  • 22 percent report that they have missed 1-5 days this year because of IEQ-related symptoms.
  • 19 percent report that they know of students who have had to leave school or have been absent due to IEQ-related symptoms.

 Policies and Programs

  • 9 percent reported that their school implements an IEQ management plan (such as EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools program).
  • 18 percent reported that their school has a general IEQ policy.
  • 21 percent reported that their school has an IEQ reporting and response policy to handle complaints.
  • 25 percent reported that their school has an Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) Management Plan.
  • 22 percent reported that their school has a green cleaning program.
  • 10 percent reported that their school has an anti-idling policy.
  • 26 percent reported that their school has an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.
  • 35 percent reported that their school has a hazard communication program (the “right to know” about hazardous chemicals, training, etc.).
  • 39 percent reported that their school has a hazardous materials policy that addresses the use, storage, and disposal of materials).
  • 24 percent reported that their school has a chemical management program (addresses the removal of outdated chemicals, prevents the mismanagement of chemicals, etc.).
  • 56 percent reported that their school has an emergency response and evacuation policy.
  • 27 percent reported that their school has a policy that says what products are district-approved and can and cannot be brought in from outside sources.
  • 31 percent reported that their school has a policy that prohibits or limits the types of animals allowed in classrooms.
  • 28 percent reported that their school has a policy that prohibits or limits the types of foods and beverages that can be eaten and/or stored in classrooms.

 Administrator Support

  • 37 percent report that their school administrators have been supportive in resolving IEQ and other health and safety issues.

 Barriers to Implementing Good IEQ Practices or an IEQ Management Plan (not all that we asked about are listed below)

  • 72 percent report that cost/money is a barrier.
  • 43 percent report that lack of knowledge/training and resources is a barrier.
  • 39 percent report that competing priorities is a barrier.
  • 24 percent report that lack of support from the district administration is a barrier.

 Training and Capacity

  • 54 percent say their school does not provide training to school staff on IEQ issues.
  • 37 percent report that their school has a health and safety or wellness committee or team.
  • 11 percent report that their school district and local association has a joint labor-management health and safety or wellness committee.

 Collective Bargaining

  • 11 percent say their collective bargaining agreement includes IEQ-related health and safety language (13 percent say no; 58 don’t know).