Tool of Interest: How to Create Healthy Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Our team at the Hoffman Toxicant-Induced Loss of Tolerance (TILT) Program at UT Health San Antonio wanted to share this important external website:

Creating Healthy Indoor Air Quality in Schools,” from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The website has various tools to help you promote a healthy learning environment at your school to reduce absenteeism, improve test scores, and enhance student and staff productivity.

“Indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools finally is attracting the serious media attention it deserves,” according to an EPA email sent on April 6, 2022. “The recent flood of interest nationwide for improving IAQ in schools provides an incredible opportunity for EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools program and stakeholders like you to promote proven IAQ management strategies that protect health and improve academic performance.”

Here are some of the key EPA tools in indoor air quality:

indoor air quality in schools websiteSee all the tools here.

Why Does This Matter for People Who Experience TILT?

Indoor air quality in schools is an important issue for people who experience chemical intolerance, said Dr. Claudia Miller, allergist/immunologist, professor emeritus, and leader of the Hoffman TILT Program at UT Health San Antonio.

“Covid is making federal agencies take school ventilation seriously. However, chemically susceptible children have needs that go well beyond simply avoiding Covid.” Miller said. Art supplies, felt-tip markers, fragrances, and cleaning chemical emit vapors that can play havoc with their ability to pay attention to teachers, retain new information and get along with their peers. Depression and suicide rates may be affected by pesticides, disinfectants and other chemical exposures at school and/or at home.”

“Susceptible children may have parents who are aware of their own susceptibility to chemical exposures. Our study of chemically intolerant mothers, assessed using the QEESI, showed a 3-fold greater risk of autism and 2 and 1/2 times greater risk of adhd in their children, compared with offspring of mothers who were not chemically susceptible.”

How chemically sensitive are you?

Answer these three questions from the Brief Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (BREESI):

  1. Do you feel sick when you are exposed to tobacco smoke, certain fragrances, nail polish/remover, engine exhaust, gasoline, air fresheners, pesticides, paint/thinner, fresh tar/asphalt, cleaning supplies, new carpet or furnishings? By sick, we mean: headache, difficulty thinking, difficulty breathing, weakness, dizziness, upset stomach, etc.
  2. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse or allergic reactions to any drugs or medications (such as antibiotics, anesthetics, pain relievers, X-ray contrast dye, vaccines or birth control pills), or to an implant, prosthesis, contraceptive chemical or device, or other medical/surgical/dental material or procedure?
  3. Are you unable to tolerate or do you have adverse reactions to any foods such as dairy products, wheat, corn, eggs, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, or food additives (e.g., MSG, food dye)?

If you answer YES to any of these three questions, take the Quick Environmental Exposure and Sensitivity Inventory (QEESI) and share the results with your doctor!