This week's issue ofThe Newsprovides a firsthand look at what some manufacturers are doing to help inform commercial contractors and school district employees about the products they market for improving the indoor air quality (IAQ) in school buildings.

I accompanied Bob Johnson and Beau Johnson of Coastal Air Conditioning (Sylmar, Calif.) and Ron Willing and Adam Vital of Orange United School District (Orange County, Calif.) as they walked the floor of the Anaheim Convention Center, visiting manufacturers exhibiting at the AHR Expo. (See the story "School IAQ Gets Special Attention From Exhibitors" in this issue.) As we made our way through the expo, I sensed that these four people were impressed by what they learned - to the point that all of them went back to visit some of the manufacturers after our two-hour tour was over.

They wanted more information.

I would like to think that given the same set of circumstances, many of our own readers would feel the same way. Two hours is a very short time to learn about products from at least 12 different manufacturers. But the brevity made them want more.

I think the project was a success. What I'd like to do now is transfer that small success to a larger scale.

The Emotional Hook

If you have read our front-page story this week (and "Finding the Answer To Poor IAQ In Schools," Feb. 9), take a moment to think about the people in these stories.

To be blunt, let's think about our children. I have to admit that I have a personal interest in the story because my wife and I have two children in elementary school. I care about the air they breathe for seven hours each day. Many of you are in the same position, and if the IAQ in those school buildings is poor, your kids are spending a third of their day in less-than-healthy environments.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, almost 60,000 schools report health problems linked to poor IAQ. What are the chances that one of them is where your son or daughter attends classes? And what are the odds that poor school IAQ could contribute to an illness?

I don't know; I can only speculate. But efficient and up-to-date equipment, serviced and maintained to operate at peak condition, can only help.

The Business Hook

Putting emotion aside, look at the problem from a business point of view.

If almost 60,000 schools have IAQ problems, who is going to solve them? The answer is HVACR contractors. You are the trained professionals. You are the ones who are taking the time to understand the consequences of poor IAQ and passing that information on to your people through training and workshops.

You are the ones who spend many days per week, month, and year in school buildings, servicing and maintaining the HVAC systems that keep school building occupants comfortable and safe.

And you are the ones who see the causes and consequences of poor IAQ. You see the aging equipment, the inadequate airflow patterns, improperly balanced loads, dirt and dust piled up around return vents - as well as vents that are blocked, obstructed, or even sealed to prevent proper airflow.

You share the frustrations of the parents and teachers who are told shrinking state budgets are the reason why IAQ problems remain unresolved. These school districts need your help and your input in order to push for change.

And you can make a smart business decision. Finally, it's time to educate the educators.

John Hall is business management editor. He can be reached at 248-244-1294, 248-362-0317 (fax), or

Publication date: 02/16/2004