Dust mites are tiny bugs too small to see with the naked eye that are found in fabrics, including carpeting. Allergies to dust mites are common among children. Also, studies show that exposure to dust mites can cause the development of new asthma.
Choose hard-surface flooring as an alternative when possible. Use washable area rugs as needed. Wash in hot water (130°F) weekly.
Regularly vacuum carpet when children are not present; High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter vacuums or HEPA filter bags are recommended.
Clean spilled liquids immediately. Limit or avoid eating on carpeted areas.
Professionally clean carpets during unoccupied times (e.g., summer vacation) as needed. Be sure carpet is completely dry within 24 to 48 hours to prevent mold growth.
For carpets wet longer than 48 hours (i.e. floods); wet vacuum the carpet, use fans to accelerate the drying process and use dehumidifiers to reduce humidity levels.
Maintain humidity levels less than 50 percent.
Maintain carpeting with manufactures guidelines.
For additional information on cleaning mold refer to EPA’s Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings .
Animals with fur (e.g., dogs, cats, guinea pigs) have proteins in their dander (skin flakes), saliva, feces and urine. Many children are allergic to these proteins or allergens. Fish, turtles and snakes do not produce such allergens.
Consider removing pet(s) from the classroom if there are children with asthma present that are allergic to pet dander. It may take months for allergen levels to decrease after the pet is removed.
If removal of pet(s) is not possible, keep animals in separate rooms than children with pet allergies and do the following actions:
Consider placing dense vent filter over forced air outlets to trap airborne dander particles.
Keep pet(s) in cages as much as possible, clean waste from cages daily.
Locate pet(s) away from ventilation intakes and returns.
Store pet food in sealed containers to avoid pest problems.
Consider issuing a Pet Notice to all families.
Dust collects on all indoor surfaces and contains asthma triggers, such as mold spores and dust mite allergens.
Regularly wipe hard surfaces with a damp, soapy cloth removing dust.
Reduce clutter and unnecessary items in the classroom. Clutter encourages pests.
Water-damaged materials, such as ceiling tiles, encourage mold growth. Mold can trigger asthma symptoms for children allergic to mold.
Check for water stains on ceilings, walls, floors, and window sills.
Locate the source of the water leak immediately. Fix all leaks to avoid further problems.
Thoroughly clean or replace porous (e.g., ceiling tiles, carpet) water-damaged materials that are wet longer than 48 hours.
Many older school buildings have windows that open and close, which are used to introduce outdoor air into the building. Outdoor air pollution, pollen and mold spores can drift into the school through an open window, all of which can make asthma symptoms worse. Buildings located near high traffic areas need to be aware of traffic fumes, particularly diesel exhaust, and smog levels.
Keep windows closed when pollen or mold counts are high. Use air conditioners to filter air when possible.
Refer to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology website for Daily Pollen & Mold Counts .
If the building is near high traffic areas, keep windows closed when ozone/smog levels are high. Use air conditioners to filter air when possible.
Adopt a vehicle no-idling policy for drop-off and pick-up. Especially if vehicles and busses are able to pull up directly in front of doors or windows of the school.
Limit outdoor activities on Ozone Action Days. Ozone Action Days usually occur on hot, sunny summer days with little to no wind.
Refer to IDEM’s Smog Watch website for daily smog levels or call 1-800-631-2871 or (317) 233-2318.
Dust collects on all indoor surfaces. Dust contains asthma triggers, such as mold spores and dust mite allergens. Regularly wipe window blind surfaces with a damp, soapy cloth to remove dust.
Art supplies can give off fumes with strong odors that can irritate the lungs and cause or worsen asthma symptoms.
Limit children’s exposure to products with strong odors.
Use non-toxic art supplies or choose products with the lowest volatile organic compound (VOC) content available. Be sure there is good ventilation when using art supplies.
Pests, such as cockroaches, are attracted to food waste found in trash cans. Cockroaches produce powerful allergens that can cause asthma attacks in children allergic to cockroaches.
Take out trash regularly and reduce clutter in the classroom.
Do not leave out food or garbage. Do not allow students to leave food or garbage in their desks.
If snacks or lunches are eaten in the classroom, clean food crumbs and liquid spills daily. Sweep or vacuum regularly.
Consider implementing the Indiana Pesticide Review Board’s suggested pesticide program, Model Pest Control Policy for Indiana Schools .
Report signs of pests to the appropriate personnel, note on the Pest Sighting Log.
If you suspect pests try an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program rather than chemicals to deal with pests. Examples of IPM include sealing cracks and crevices, removing access to food and water, and using monitoring (sticky) traps or baits. If these actions do not work, low-impact pesticides may be used.
Spray and plug-in air fresheners use strong fragrances that can irritate the lungs of sensitive children. Do not use air fresheners or candles while children are present.
Plants can be a potential source of mold, if plants are over watered or allowed to sit in standing water. Mold can trigger asthma symptoms for children allergic to mold.
Limit the number of plants you bring from home.
Do not over water and do not allow plants to sit in standing water.
Repot once a year.
Remove dead plant matter. Do not allow dead leaves to rot in the pot.
Clean any mold growth on pots with a damp, soapy cloth.
Many newer school buildings use a central heating and cooling system. Dust can accumulate on the air vent and in the air ducts, containing allergic asthma triggers, such as mold spores and dust mite allergens. Air flow is needed to help reduce moisture in the air. Excess moisture encourages mold growth.
Be sure the ventilation system is providing enough air flow (15 cubic feet per minute) and return. Increase when needed. Refer to the EPA’s Tools For Schools Ventilation Checklist for how to measure air flow.
Do not block air vent.
Check air vents periodically. Vacuum with a brush attachment when needed. Wipe any mold off with damp, soapy cloth. Take the grill off to check the duct work for signs of mold. Be sure the grill is dry before replacing to prevent mold and rust.
Maintain humidity levels below 50 percent.