2016 Progress Report: 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. , Kinney, Kerry A. , Novoselac, Atila , Wu, Sarah , Horner, Sharon
Current Investigators: Corsi, Richard L. , Kinney, Kerry A. , Horner, Sharon , 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 Period Covered by this Report: February 1, 2016 through January 31,2017
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 , Human Health

Objective:

Objectives of the Research: Past studies of indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools have been deficient in many ways. 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. The focus to date has been on identifying IAQ problems in schools. Proven low-cost solutions are needed.

The overall goal of the proposed 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 then investigating the efficacy of low-cost solutions. Specific objectives include: (1) identifying 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) utilizing molecular techniques to investigate relationships between composition and diversity of the microbial community present in school classrooms, environmental conditions, and health symptoms; (3) delineating the role of OVOCs on student and teacher health outcomes; and (4) engaging high school student and teacher stewards in the design, data collection and outreach components of the project.

Progress Summary:

Progress Summary/Accomplishments (Outputs/Outcomes): The following tasks have been completed during the past year: (1) intensive field measurements in classrooms located in five high schools in Central Texas, (2) analysis of data, and (3) community engagement. Each task is presented in additional detail below.

(1) Field measurements were completed during the second+ year of the field campaign to quantify a suite of indoor air and environmental quality metrics in 30 classrooms in each second academic semester. Sampling events for most metrics were completed over 4 days, starting on Monday afternoon and ending on Friday afternoon. Measurements included (classroom unless otherwise noted): temperature and relative humidity, carbon dioxide (room and supply air), fine (PM2.5) and coarse (PM10) particulate matter (room and rooftop), speciated volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ozone (room and rooftop), bioaerosols (room air and surfaces), noise, and illuminance. Surveys of perceived air and environmental quality for teachers across five high schools were also completed and added to survey data collected in the previous year, primarily for students. *This second year of the field sampling concluded our 2-year field measurements. The voluminous amount of data that we collected over 2 years continues to be analyzed and readied for publication.

(2) A significant amount of data analysis was completed as related to measurements made in the field (over the now combined two-year field campaign), particularly for CO2/ventilation, lighting, formaldehyde, ozone, and particulate matter. Our team generated cumulative distribution plots for aggregated data for several key metrics, analyzed temporal variations in metrics for individual classrooms, and continue to assess correlations between metrics.

(3) A significant effort was made during the past year to engage STEM teachers and students in five of our participating high schools. These included a presentation of our findings to teachers, administrators and students, as well as a separate presentation of results to key facilities staff.

Future Activities:

Future Activities Plans: In the next activity period we will focus on:

  • Analyzing field data
  • Publishing in peer-reviewed archived journals (see above)
  • Presenting findings at Indoor Air 2018 in Philadelphia
  • Proposing and implementing a session at Indoor Air* 2018 on indoor air quality in schools (with invitation to other EPA school grantees to participate) *The Indoor Air conference series is the gold standard for conferences dedicated specifically to indoor air and environmental quality research.
  • Planning and implementing a symposium for high school administrators, teachers and students in Central Texas for fall 2018, with the intent of alerting school districts and their students to indoor air quality in schools and the most salient findings of our study
  • Using social media to highlight major findings of our work.

Journal Articles:

No journal articles submitted with this report: View all 25 publications for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

Children’s respiratory health, community partnership, school practice, mediators, particulates, surveys, test scores, attendance

Relevant Websites:

We have not yet developed a formal website for our work because of delays in publishing. However, The PI (Corsi) has started to blog and intends to write several blog pieces about our study over the next year, with the first by end of December 2017.

Progress and Final Reports:

Original Abstract
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2017 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • Final Report