EPA Recognizes MCPS for Indoor Air Quality Program

January 12, 2006
Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) was recognized this week for its ongoing proactive approach to maintaining good indoor air quality in school buildings. The school system's preventive maintenance plans developed by the MCPS Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Team were highlighted during a tour of Travilah Elementary School by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials on January 12. The tour was among the activities of the EPA's annual symposium, Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools.

Since its formation five years ago, the MCPS IAQ Team has addressed indoor air quality issues in school system facilities by developing and implementing Building Maintenance Plans or BMPs. A BMP is a spin-off of the EPA's air quality program called the Tools for Schools Kit and can be described as a school-specific operator's manual for the building's ventilation system.

The IAQ Team develops this manual by gathering information during preventive maintenance site visits. At the conclusion of each visit, the BMP is presented to the building service manager for his or her use. Contained within this plan are preventive maintenance routines and checklists designed to assist building service staff in maintaining the ventilation equipment for their facilities.

The Indoor Air Quality Team then conducts preventive maintenance site visits to thoroughly clean and repair all ventilation systems. To determine how effective these efforts are, the Team assesses the indoor air quality before and after each visit. Various indoor air quality parameters, including temperature and ventilation, are sampled to determine if they are within acceptable ranges for good air quality. During the assessment phase, the Team also identifies any capital improvement projects (i.e., replacement of air handling units, chillers, and unit ventilators) that may be necessary to improve indoor air quality.

Since the program began, MCPS has spent approximately $8 million on capital improvement projects relating to improving indoor air quality, and more than $1 million were spent replacing carpet with vinyl floor tile in hundreds of classrooms. In addition, approximately 2,000 products for school use have been screened to ensure that they are safe and nonpolluting. Products are screened for toxicity, flammability, corrosiveness, reactivity, and volatility.

In 2002, MCPS won the EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Excellence Award for leadership and commitment in maintaining healthy indoor air quality in schools. In 2005, MCPS hosted a delegation of Korean school officials who were interested in finding out more about the IAQ program in MCPS.

An MCPS Web site (see link below) has been developed to provide information to the public on indoor air quality issues.

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