2017 Progress Report: Environmental Quality, Health and Learning in Conventional and High Performance School Buildings

EPA Grant Number: R835637
Title: Environmental Quality, Health and Learning in Conventional and High Performance School Buildings
Investigators: Batterman, Stuart A. , Thun, Geoffrey , Wineman, Jean , Mukherjee, Bhramar , Somers, Cheryl L , McCaughtry, Nathan A
Current Investigators: Batterman, Stuart A. , Somers, Cheryl L , McCaughtry, Nate
Institution: University of Michigan , Wayne State University
Current Institution: Wayne State University , University of Michigan
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: November 20, 2014 through November 19, 2018 (Extended to November 19, 2019)
Project Period Covered by this Report: November 20, 2016 through November 19,2017
Project Amount: $1,000,000
RFA: Healthy Schools: Environmental Factors, Children’s Health and Performance, and Sustainable Building Practices (2013) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Endocrine Disruptors , Human Health

Objective:

The proposed research plan has three goals: (1) increasing our understanding of the relationship between environmental factors and the health and academic performance of students, teachers and staff; (2) evaluating the use and effectiveness of indoor environmental quality (IEQ) measures used in high performance school buildings; and (3) promoting an understanding of the importance of IEQ in schools and IEQ targets for high performance buildings and informing the next generation of standards for the sustainable design of schools.

Progress Summary:

Following phase 1, which evaluated IEQ parameters in a cross-section of 37 recently constructed or recently renovated elementary school buildings, balanced between high performance (LEED-certified and EnergyStar) buildings and similarly sized buildings located in the US Midwest, we selected three schools for phase 2 of the project for an intensive analysis of ventilation and filtration and children’s health. Following our repeated measures study design, we assessed conditions at five time points: (1) baseline (September 2016); (2) use of a higher ventilation rate in a portion of the building (November 2016); and then (3) use of a higher ventilation rate in a different portion of the building with a return to baseline in the first portion (December 2016). After returning ventilation conditions back to baseline, we then evaluated (4) the use of MERV 13 filters in a portion of the building compared to the original MERV8 (February 2017); and (5) use of MERV 13 filters in a different portion of the building, again with a return to MERV 8 filters in the first portion (March 2017). Approximately 6 weeks following each of these conditions, we utilized the PACER test to assess children’s cardio-respiratory performance, and administered a battery of tests (Curriculum Based Measures, CBT) to children in the schools to assess their learning progress. Both PACER and CBT tests were administered to children in the 2nd to 5th grade classrooms. At the same time, we characterized IEQ parameters in 4 classrooms in each school, using multiday measurements of key IEQ parameters, e.g., ventilation and air exchange rates, carbon dioxide (CO2), particulate matter (PM), and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), noise level. After the initial assessment, one school dropped out from the study, causing the student numbers to drop from approximately 900 to 550. We also have initiated outreach and education activities, part of Phase 3 of the project, with a number of organizations in Michigan. S. Batterman summarized results of the project at the EPA meeting in Philadelphia in October, 2017.

Outputs: From phase 1, we have documented conditions in the 37 schools and 137 classrooms in phase 1, including physical-chemical measures, building and HVAC information, derived information (ventilation rates), teacher surveys, occupancy surveys, etc. We have published three manuscripts examining VOCs and ventilation, and have presented a conference proceeding. We also have data on from approximately 300 teacher surveys. From phase 2, we have collected repeated measures of individual level data from children. This data is being cleaning and a draft data dictionary has been developed.

 

data is being cleaning and a draft data dictionary has been developed.

Outcomes: We have completed a number of analyses from the phase 1 activities. We published three manuscripts that examine VOC levels and ventilation rates in the buildings. Generally, school specific factors, including HVAC systems and teacher behaviors, but not classification as a high-performance or conventional building, affect VOC levels and ventilation rates. One of the manuscripts provides a critical review of CO2-based methods commonly used to estimate ventilation rates, and suggests a number of enhancements designed to improve accuracy of these methods, which is important given the conditions observed in the schools, e.g., variable occupancy. We have submitted a manuscript evaluating the effects of advanced filtration on children’s health, using health impact evaluation approaches. We presented results at several professional meetings (see below). In addition, S. Batterman met with policy and legislative officials to discuss school IEQ issues in Lansing and Detroit.

We have agreed to present additional results at professional meetings scheduled in 2018, including the Indoor Air meeting in Philadelphia (July 22-27) and the International Society of Exposure Assessment/International Society of Environmental Epidemiology joint meeting in Ottawa (August 26 – 30).

Future Activities:

We are proceeding with data cleaning and processing for phase 2, which will use a number of advanced statistical models to evaluate results. These analyses will evaluate the ventilation and filtration strategies, and assess whether air quality and student performance was affected. We will also acquire and evaluate student absenteeism in the three schools. Based on this work, we will develop a best practices guide. Additional engagement, education and outreach activities aimed at promoting the importance and understanding of IEQ on student health and performance are anticipated.


Journal Articles on this Report : 3 Displayed | Download in RIS Format

Other project views: All 10 publications 4 publications in selected types All 4 journal articles
Type Citation Project Document Sources
Journal Article Batterman S. Review and extension of CO2-based methods to determine ventilation rates with application to school classrooms. International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research 2017;14(2):145.
abstract available   full text available
R835637 (2015)
R835637 (2016)
R835637 (2017)
R835637 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Batterman S, Su F-C, Wald A, Watkins F, Godwin C, Thun G. Ventilation rates in recently constructed U.S. school classrooms. Indoor Air 2017;27(5):880-890.
    abstract available   full text available
    R835637 (2015)
    R835637 (2016)
    R835637 (2017)
    R835637 (Final)
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  • Journal Article Zhong L, Su F-C, Batterman S. Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in conventional and high performance school buildings in the U.S. International Journal of Environmental and Public Health Research 2017;14(1):100.
    abstract available   full text available
    R835637 (2015)
    R835637 (2016)
    R835637 (2017)
    R835637 (Final)
  • Full-text from PubMed
  • Abstract from PubMed
  • Associated PubMed link
  • Full-text: MDPI-Full Text HTML and Link to Download PDF
    Exit
  • Abstract: MDPI-Abstract
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  • Supplemental Keywords:

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

    Progress and Final Reports:

    Original Abstract
  • 2015 Progress Report
  • 2016 Progress Report
  • 2018 Progress Report
  • Final Report