School stinks: a visual look at IAQ problems

April 7, 2000
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This article is a photo essay on the indoor air conditions at a local elementary school in my community. These photos depict a telling story that cannot be expressed in words alone.

When I recently visited this elementary school for a survey of indoor air quality (IAQ) problems, I was informed by the school administration that there would be major problems. They told me of complaints by faculty and staff of poor IAQ.

When I walked into the building, there was a musty odor in the corridors. These corridors had no carpeting and contained simple, hot water fin-tube radiators.

When I asked for a stepladder, I found that the ceiling tile in this school, which had no air conditioning, had the same musty odor.

I also poked my head into the plenum above the suspended ceiling, and the odor was so foul that I could not breathe through my nose; I had to breathe through my mouth.

As I went on my tour of the building, there was a musty odor in the gym also. It was not quite the same as in the corridors. The gym odor was from the supply air coming from the unit ventilators.

The rest of the story is told in the photos on these two pages.

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