INDIANAPOLIS, IN — New legislation regarding indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools was recently signed into law in Indiana. Jay Potesta, business manager of Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMWIA) Local 20 here played a key role in the development and passage of the legislation.

“We are on the ground floor of something that could affect school buildings throughout the nation. The framework of this legislation can easily be adopted by other states,” said Potesta, a former teacher.

“When I was an educator, we knew that kids learn best in smaller classrooms with well-prepared teachers. But we never thought about the impact of poor air quality on the ability of children to learn and on things like increased absenteeism.”

Potesta also noted that a top priority of the SMWIA is to develop the most cost-effective way to maintain IAQ in schools. “Sheet metal workers already have the competency and certification in the indoor air quality field through the Testing, Adjusting and Balancing Bureau. We have the expertise and our members are familiar with the latest technologies through our 160 training facilities in the U.S. and Canada.”

The new law allows the Indiana State Department of Health to adopt rules to establish an indoor air quality in schools program. It requires the department to inspect the air quality of a school if a complaint is received and to work with the school to develop a reasonable plan to improve air quality. It also establishes an advisory panel to work with the department in developing plans and best practices for school air quality, which would include industry experts, as well as a teacher, a representative of a parent organization, and a physician.

Potesta also complimented the National Energy Management Institute’s (NEMI’s) work in support of the legislation. “NEMI understood the importance of SC-407 to the state and residents of Indiana. More importantly, they were able to provide invaluable expertise, research, and testimony as it relates to IAQ in schools.”

Publication date: 05/06/2002