Air Quality

Why Is Air Quality Important?

The quality of the air that we breathe, both inside and outside, is an important factor in determining our health and quality of life. On an annual basis, the School Board of Broward County serves more than 258,000 students and employs more than 39,000 personnel. Collectively, they spend an estimated 90 percent of their time indoors. Over the past few decades, the construction of more tightly-sealed buildings, reduced ventilation rates to conserve energy, and the use of synthetic building materials have increased our exposure to indoor air pollutants. The potential effects of a school' s indoor air problems are dramatic: health problems for students and staff, absenteeism, an uncomfortable learning environment, and liability issues.

About Outdoor Air Quality

The most widely known and common form or air pollution comes from automobiles and construction equipment, which produce greenhouse gases (GHGs). Another large source comes from power plants producing the energy needed for our homes, schools, and businesses. The six most common air pollutants, called Criteria Pollutants, include:

  1. Ozone (ozone is a good thing when it is miles up in the atmosphere where it protects us from the sun' s harmful rays, but it is harmful at the ground level.
  2. Carbon monoxide
  3. Nitrogen dioxide
  4. Sulfur dioxide
  5. Particulates
  6. Lead

These contaminants collect in our atmosphere and create health problems such as asthma, allergies and cancer. This pollution causes acid rain, problems with reproductive health in humans and animals, and decreased crop yields. Even the waste we produce releases methane as it decomposes in our landfills. Methane is a very powerful greenhouse gas.

What Broward Schools Are Doing

With our core mission – to educate children – in the balance, the District has made indoor air quality (IAQ) a priority. To enhance our efforts as a District, we partnered with the EPA in 2003 to implement Tools for Schools, a unified systematic approach to dealing with IAQ concerns at each participating location. From there, we adopted EPA recommended practices for all IAQ efforts and all locations. With solutions ranging from moisture and mold control to effective cleaning and maintenance techniques, our IAQ program is truly a collaborative endeavor. Many departments work together to achieve optimal results. Good IAQ involves maintaining healthy indoor environments through preventive, proactive, and responsive solutions.

Our District is committed to “going green” by developing and following ecologically- and environmentally-friendly programs and processes. Many of our “green” strategies are directly related to indoor air quality. Here are just a few:

Materials Selection

We purchase and use “green” custodial cleaning products. H202 (hydrogen peroxide) is our approved all-purpose, Green Seal-certified cleaner. It is cost-effective and greatly decreases the spread of germs.

We use water-based paints instead of oil-based. These paints emit less volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which may be toxic and odorous. We discontinued using petroleum-based paint thinners on our interiors. The result is cleaner air and a decrease in costs for waste disposal.

Anti-idling Program

When school buses idle (meaning their engines are kept running at low speeds even when the buses have stopped), they emit a greater amount of air pollutants. These pollutants can enter the indoor environment through open doors, windows, and fresh air intakes. The District has implemented an Anti-idling Program prohibiting school bus drivers from idling buses for more than five minutes. Idle-reduction saves money by conserving fuel, reducing wear and tear on engines, and decreasing the indoor and outdoor air pollution.

LEED Standards

We are in the process of designing our first two buildings to meet and achieve United States Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification: the Media Center at Atlantic Technical and Stranahan High School Phased Replacement Project.

SEEDS Committee

In 2007, the District formed the Sustainable Energy & Environmental Design for Schools (SEEDS) Committee to research, educate, and implement design guidelines for the development of high performance schools. This group directly promotes environmental stewardship and encourages students and employees to be environmentally conscious.

For more in-depth information, visit the Tools for Schools website.

What You Can Do

To Improve Outdoor Air Quality

  • Reduce your Vehicle Miles Travelled (VMTs). Carpooling, biking, and walking are great options. Even if you don’t do them every day, try them once a week.
  • Buy fuel-efficient vehicles (FEV). There are government incentives available for hybrids and other vehicles that have improved mileage.
  • Save money on your electricity bill. Air conditioning and heating often uses energy made from fossil fuels. Set your thermostat to 78º it will keep you cool in the summer and save you electricity.
  • Buy green energy. Many utility companies offer packages where you can purchase green energy. This will drive the market toward clean, sustainable, and stable energy sources such as solar, wind, and biomass.

To Improve Indoor Air Quality

  • Remove all chemicals. Even common items like room deodorizers and air fresheners can introduce pollutants to the indoor air.
  • Remove all live plants. Their soil may contain allergins. Over-watering introduces excess moisture.
  • Remove all animals. Some occupants may be allergic to pet dander.
  • Reduce clutter. Excess materials become food sources for mold and prevent optimal cleaning efforts.
  • Keep doors and windows closed. This helps eliminate the introduction of untreated, humid air into rooms.
  • Hands off the thremostat! Only qualified technicians shall adjust thermostats. This helps ensure HVACs operate properly.

If You Are A Facilities Service Person

  • Remove excess build-up of dust. Excess dust triggers allergies.
  • Clean surfaces, including flooring.
  • Maintain clean environments. This prevents the intrusion of unwanted pests.
  • Clean and properly install HVAC filters. This ensures maximum filtration.
  • Clean and sanitize HVAC supply and return registers. This helps eliminate dust build-up in HVAC systems.
  • Replace stained ceiling tiles. Wet tiles become environments for mold growth. Initiate a work order to correct sources of staining.
  • Be proactive. It prevents more serious issues.


Broward County Air Quality

Environmental Kids Club

Environmental Protection Agency

The US National Library of Medicine

USEPA Outdoor Air Quality