How and When to Use File an IEQ Concern Form

The IEA and ISD agree that staff and students should work in clean, healthy spaces.  If you suspect that an indoor area is unhealthy or unsafe----for example, there is evidence of rodents or insects, you notice an active leak that hasn’t been addressed, or you smell something odd----it is vital that you report it.  
If you reported a concern to a colleague, administrator, or custodian, were told there was a work order, and you haven’t seen any action on the concern within a reasonable amount of time, you should file an IEQ Concern Form.  And if the situation appears to be imminently dangerous, you should file the form.
By submitting the IEQ Concern Form, the issue becomes a top priority in the work-order system.  A staff member from the Facilities Department will contact you and the other concerned parties within 24 hours, and a member of the IEQ committee will also stay in touch to make sure you are getting help.  
The concern stays “open,” with a clear and consistent line of communication, until the person who submitted the concern believes the problem is solved.  This process is intended to make sure that our facilities are healthy and safe spaces for students, staff, and community members.  
Over the years, the committee has dealt with many concerns: simple ones that can be solved within a day and complicated ones that take time.  The common denominator in all of them?  Someone spoke up for safety and we had a process to address it quickly without blame, shame, or excessive delays.
Keeping It Clean
Many commercially-available cleaning products contain chemical compounds that can trigger or even cause asthma.  Although they “smell clean” to some people, their ingredients include compounds that can disrupt the endocrine system, lead to headaches, and lead to difficulty breathing.  The compounds can linger in our shared airspaces.
While the ISD custodial staff have the responsibility to keep large areas clean,  other staff are responsible for keeping their immediate work areas clean. Staff who work directly with students are responsible for making sure surfaces---desks, tables, door and faucet handles---are cleaned with regularity.  
We offer these important reminders about what products are acceptable in Issaquah Schools:
  • DO use only school district-supplied cleaning agents.  ASK your custodian for a squirt bottle of cleaner and ask for a refill when yours runs low.  Teach your students to wipe down their desks and tables vigorously with a small amount of this chemical.  
  • DO encourage students to wash their desk and tabletops at least weekly with the cleaner from your custodian.
  • DO limit the number of surfaces that can collect dust in your workspace.  Every additional stack of supplies, piece of upholstered furniture, and area rug provides another reservoir for dust.  
  • AVOID scented products such as plug ins and diffusers.  The compounds in them are not safe for everyone.  (A 2009 study from UW found that 1 in 5 people experience headaches and breathing issues when they’re around scented air-fresheners.) Ideally, the air in your workspace should have no specific smell.  If it does, there could be an underlying concern that’s being masked by a commercial product.  
  • AVOID store-bought cleaners, such as the pre-moistened wipes:  they contain quaternary ammonium compounds, among other asthmagens, and can lead to headaches, nausea, and breathing difficulties.  Additionally, they eventually end up in our landfills and watersheds.  
http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/content/cleaners_and_health
http://www.ceh.org/news-events/blog/chemicals-of-concern/
National Healthy Schools Day
The concerns about school safety are frequently reported in the news.  Although we have been very fortunate to pass levies and bonds that insure our ability to build and maintain outstanding facilities, we are vigilant in taking preventive measures to ensure that our school buildings are healthy environments for staff and students.  
  • Green Cleaning
  • Joint IEQ Committee
  • Pest Management Practices
  • Who is in charge of protecting children’s and staff’s health at school? We all are.  
  • http://www.healthyschools.org/
Mold and Mildew
Although fungi live throughout our environment, we must be vigilant about controlling its growth indoors.  A few species of fungi thrive in chronically damp indoor spaces----think of the casing around windows and doors, or the spaces around a small leak beneath a sink or above a drop ceiling.  The effects of a fungal colony on staff and students can vary from no effect to a profound and confusing constellation of symptoms, including headache, nausea, skin rashes, and breathing difficulties.  A long exposure---for example, someone who has been around the moldy area for many months---can lead to more severe medical problems and immune system irregularities.  It is relatively easy to stop mold from growing in the first place by being vigilant about how a building sheds water. If you are aware of  or suspect a leak, please report it immediately to your building’s custodian and administrator.  If you have not seen prompt action, or if you simply want to make sure you’re getting regular communication about it, please report the issue on the IEQ Concern Form to make sure the joint committee is in touch with you until the problem is resolved.  
Dust!
Although it’s all around us----who hasn’t been mesmerized by a shaft of light highlighting a cloud of indoor dust they didn’t even realize was there?---dust is a known asthma trigger and needs to be controlled.  Dust contains particles of skin, pet hair, flakes of car exhaust, soil, mold, and some viruses and bacteria.  It also provides food for mites.   In “normal” amounts, it is just there and poses few problems.  In a classroom, office or library, dust can accumulate very quickly.  Two ways to help control dust in our school environment include the following:  1) Store supplies and papers, to the most reasonable extent, in covered bins and cabinets.  Leave as few surface areas as possible for dust to accumulate. 2) Wipe down surfaces regularly with a dry microfiber cloth or a lightly-dampened paper towel.  3) Make the floor accessible for your custodian to facilitate deep vacuuming. 4) Keep your ventilation unit free of clutter.  
What Constitutes Good Air Quality?
  • CO2-----ASHRAE Standard 62 recommends an indoor level not to exceed about 700 ppm above outdoor ambient air which is typically about 300 to 400 ppm.
  • Indoor Humidity---ideally, between 30-65%
  • Air flow---(velocity, volume, and ventilation) 10 cubic feet per minute per person
  • Temperature---ideally, it should be consistently between 68-74 Fahrenheit.
  • Particulates----fiberglass, soot, molds, endotoxins
  • Absence of VOCs---Air is composed of the natural atmospheric gases and the chemical and biological forms of tiny particulates---such as bacteria, fungi, solvents from things like cleaning agents and production.  Myriad particles of modern life float within the air we and our students breathe.  One of our goals should be limiting the “chemical load”  in our air.  
  • http://www.tsi.com/uploadedFiles/_Site_Root/Products/Literature/Handbooks/IAQ_Handbook_2011_US_2980187-web.pdf