Policy Analysis | December 2007

School Air Quality Policies

Jonathan Watts Hull

Seven states in the SLC have some policy concerning indoor air quality for schools. The table below provides details:

State-by-State Air Quality Policies

Alabama No state policy.
Arkansas No state policy.
Florida Statute 1001.42(16)(a) (2004) requires the district school board to maintain a system of school improvement and education accountability. This system shall be consistent with, and implemented through, the district's continuing system of planning and budgeting and requires the board to annually approve and require implementation of a school improvement plan for each school in the district. Plans must address certain state educational priorities and student performance standards and be based on an analysis of student achievement and other school performance data. This statute was amended by Chapter 2004-255, Laws of Florida, to require school improvement plans to address other issues including indoor environmental air quality.Statute 235.06 (1999) requires the Commissioner of Education to adopt and administer rules prescribing safety and health standards for occupants of educational and ancillary plants as part of the State Uniform Building Code for Public Educational Facilities. Each board shall prescribe policies and procedures establishing a comprehensive program of safety and sanitation for the protection of occupants in the educational and ancillary plants. The requirements include annual fiscal year inspection of each facility to determine compliance with standards of casualty safety as prescribed in the rules of the commissioner. Furthermore, a provision provides for annual fire safety inspections by a Certified Fire Marshall with the subsequent report outlining a plan of action as well as the schedule for corrective action. In addition to each board, the statute also allows safety or sanitation inspections to be conducted at any time by the Department of Education or any other state or local agency of any educational or ancillary plant. Statute 235.26 (1999) further emphasizes that all public educational or ancillary plants must conform to the State Uniform Building Code for Public Educational Facilities Construction and such educational plants are exempt from all other state, county, district, municipal and local building codes. Each board is required to provide for periodic inspection during the construction phase of educational plants. It is the responsibility of each district school board and community college district board of trustees to ensure all plans and educational and ancillary plants meet the standards of the Uniform Building Code and to provide enforcement of this code. Inspectors are required to be certified under chapter 468 to administer and enforce the provisions of the code. Deviations from the adopted standards require the district school board to conduct a public hearing to quantify and demonstrate comparative costs as well as provide an explanation for the proposed deviations from the adopted standards.Before a contract has been let for construction, the department and the board must approve the phase II construction documents. The board may not occupy a facility until the project has been inspected to verify compliance with statutes, rules and codes affecting the health and safety of the occupants. The board shall maintain a record of the project completion and permanently archive of phase III construction documents. The Commissioner of Education has final review of all documentation involving the Uniform Building Code and any objections by the inspector or department must be submitted in writing.
Georgia No state policy.
Kentucky 704 KAR 4:020, Section 4 requires the local school board of education to establish adequate ventilation and control of air pollutants in all school buildings.
Louisiana No state policy.
Maryland No state policy.
Mississippi Code § 37-17-6(2) (2000) requires school districts to provide air conditioning in all classrooms in each school.
Missouri No state policy.
North Carolina Statute § 115C-48 (2006) requires local boards of education to adopt policies and procedures to reduce students' exposure to diesel emissions. 115C-12(34) (2006) requires the State Board of Education to study methods for mold and mildew prevention and mitigation and incorporate recommendations into the public school facilities guidelines as needed. Statute § 130A-236 (1998) requires the Commission for Health Services to adopt rules establishing sanitation requirements, which include cleanliness, adequate lighting, ventilation, and waste disposal, for public, private, and religious schools and requires the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources to conduct an annual inspection of schools.
Oklahoma No state policy.
South Carolina No state policy.
Tennessee Code 49-2-121 (2005) encourages each school district to conduct an inspection and evaluation program for its facilities. Such program could be the Environmental Protection Agency's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program.
Texas Health & Safety Code § 385.002 (2001) requires the State Board of Health to establish voluntary guidelines for ventilation and indoor air pollution control systems in government buildings, which includes school districts according to Code § 385.001 (2001).TAC § 61.1036 (2003) establishes recommendations for schools to consider in the construction of new facilities. It recommends schools consider the use of designs, methods and materials that will reduce the potential for indoor air quality problems. Rules further recommend that districts use the state's voluntary IAQ guidelines and the EPA's IAQ Tools for Schools program, and that they consult with a qualified IAQ specialist during the design process to ensure that the potential for indoor air quality problems after construction and occupancy of a facility is minimized.
Virginia No state policy.
West Virginia Board Policy 6201 (2000) highly recommends carpeting be restricted in public school buildings to the following areas: classrooms for grades K-2, computer labs, libraries/media centers, teachers' lounges, auditorium aisles and walkways, music rehearsal rooms, and administrative offices.Board Policy 4336(12) (2004) prohibits school bus idling while waiting for or loading students.Code § 18-9E-5 (no date available) requires the state board, in consultation with the division of health, to develop rules requiring each county board to investigate all indoor air quality problem reports within the county.