The quality of the air inside a facility affects the health and well-being of both children and adults. Viruses can spread through the air and make people sick. Also, smoke and chemicals from cleaning products, furnishings, pesticides, air fresheners, and cosmetics can linger in the air and trigger breathing problems, allergies, and asthma. Poor air quality can also affect children’s learning and behavior.
Many buildings filter the air through an HVAC system. If a building has an HVAC system, programs should make sure it works properly and gets regular upkeep. Programs can work with a ventilation consultant to evaluate the HVAC system.
Programs can consider using portable air cleaners if a building does not have an adequate HVAC system and are not prepared to make the investment in a new system, or if it has rooms without windows that can be safely opened. Portable air cleaners remove harmful particles from the air by pulling the air through a filter. Ionizing devices can damage lungs and aren’t recommended.
Tips and Strategies Related to Healthy Air
- Safely open your windows. Opening windows is a simple and low-cost way to bring fresh outside air in and move stale inside air out.
- Open windows and doors on opposite sides of the rooms for cross-ventilation. Windows that children can get to should only open four inches or have properly installed window guards.
- Turn on a fan so it draws air away from people. If using portable fans, fix safety concerns to prevent tripping on cords, tipping, collisions, and other possible causes of injury.
- Use bathroom fans and kitchen fans that vent air to the outdoors.
- Find and correct sources of unhealthy air and odors. For example, use fragrance-free cleaning products; consider a staff policy for fragrance-free, personal care products and perfumes; take out garbage daily; stay home or wear a face mask when sick to avoid adding germs to the air.
- Choose an air cleaner after reading the manufacturer’s product information. It will list the room-size recommendation, the particle size that the filter traps, and its clean air delivery rate.
- Ventilation Basics for Head Start Programs
- How to Choose a Portable Air Cleaner, Children’s Environmental Health Network
- CFOC 18.104.22.168: Playing Outdoors
- Ventilation in Schools and Childcare Programs
Resource Type: Article
National Centers: Health, Behavioral Health, and Safety
Audience: Directors and Managers
Last Updated: June 15, 2023