Healthy High School PRIDE (Partnership in Research on InDoor Environments)EPA Grant Number: R835638
Title: Healthy High School PRIDE (Partnership in Research on InDoor Environments)
Investigators: Corsi, Richard L. , Horner, Sharon , Kinney, Kerry A. , Novoselac, Atila , Wu, Sarah
Institution: The University of Texas at Austin
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: February 1, 2015 through January 31, 2019 (Extended to January 31, 2020)
Project Amount: $989,047
RFA: Healthy Schools: Environmental Factors, Children’s Health and Performance, and Sustainable Building Practices (2013) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Health
Schools have a unique place in the fabric of America. Yet there is growing evidence that poor indoor air quality (IAQ) leads to increases in student illnesses and absenteeism, decreases in academic performance, and increased upper-respiratory problems in teachers. Past studies of IAQ in schools have been deficient in many ways. Only four of 735 published papers have involved actual measurements in high schools in North America. There has been little progress in determining the actual agents responsible for adverse effects when ventilation is inadequate. Environmental agents responsible for dampness-related health effects have not been determined. Few studies have focused on irritating oxygenated VOCs (OVOCs) and their sources. Schools in hot and humid climates have been under-represented. And the focus to date has been on identifying IAQ problems in schools. Proven low-cost solutions are needed.
The overall goal of the study is to address these research gaps by partnering with six high schools in Central Texas, conducting an intensive field campaign to delineate the relationship between environmental factors and student health, and investigating the efficacy of low-cost solutions. Specific objectives include: (1) identify systematic problems in school HVAC systems that cause poor ventilation rates, increased pollutant concentrations and adverse health symptoms for school occupants and explore low-cost solutions to these problems, (2) utilize molecular techniques to investigate relationships between composition and diversity of the microbial community present in school classrooms, environmental conditions, and health symptoms, (3) delineate the role of OVOCs on student and teacher health outcomes, and (4) engage high school student and teacher stewards in the design, data collection and outreach components of the project. Overarching hypotheses are: (1) students in classrooms with poor environmental conditions (e.g., inadequate ventilation, high concentrations of biological agents and OVOCs) report more adverse health symptoms than students in classrooms with better indoor environmental quality, and (2) active engagement of school stewards in this research will improve student outcomes and environmental conditions within schools. Fourteen specific hypotheses will be tested to support these overarching hypotheses.
Tasks include: (1) critical review of literature, (2) recruitment of school stewards and study participants (n=1000-1200), (3) education of school stewards, (4) detailed walk-throughs of schools, (5) biannual surveys of student/teacher/staff health, (6) intensive field sampling in 120 classrooms, (7) novel field analyses of low-cost engineering solutions, (8) analyses of associations between environmental factors and health, (9) completion of symposia for school stewards, and (10) dissemination of results to stakeholders.
This study will lead to: (1) the largest data base to date on indoor environmental quality and associated health effects in high schools, (2) evaluation of low-cost solutions to improve school environments, (3) presentations to a wide range of stakeholders, (4) community-engaged research that will involve extensive educational experiences for high school students, and (5) three or more presentations at conferences and four journal articles.