256740 Changes of school building conditions in New York State's (NYS) public schools, 2005-2010

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Anne McCarthy, MPH , Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
Shao Lin, PhD , Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
Michele L. Herdt-Losavio, PhD, MPH , Bureau of Environmental and Occupational Epidemiology, New York State Department of Health, Albany, NY
Background: Few studies have evaluated school building conditions and their changes over time. The purpose of this study was to identify current environmental problems in NYS's public schools, determine which factors have changed since 2005, and identify problem areas and schools to target.

Methods: School environment data from the 2005 (N=2750) and 2010 (N=2797) Building Condition Survey were examined, with NYS public school buildings as our unit of analysis. Environmental factors known to be important to occupant health were identified out of 500+ questions on the survey, including: moisture/mold, vermin, ventilation, cleanliness, acoustics, lighting, and well-maintained systems, which were compared over time. Statistically significant changes were detected using chi-square tests.

Results: Out of 33 variables examined, 24 conditions showed improvements over time. Some statistically significant differences include: the proportion of schools reporting mold/water damage in classrooms reduced from 26.6% to 19.5%, unsatisfactory/failing roof ratings fell from 18.9% to 7.9%, and unsatisfactory/failing ventilation systems decreased from 19.8% to 9.7%. However, some school problems have statistically significantly increased such as malfunctioning dampers (9.9% to 12.4%), inadequate outside air for occupant load (8.3% to 19.8%), and 5% fewer schools reporting that their district utilized the U.S. EPA's Tools for Schools indoor air quality management program. Similarly, 17% of schools reported they do not practice integrative pest management, and almost 40% reported still using pesticides on their buildings and grounds.

Conclusions: Overall, reported school building conditions appear to be going in the positive direction over time. It appears the many schools have been able to rectify some common environmental issues such as mold and moisture, but still struggle with maintaining adequate ventilation and implementing environmental policies.

Learning Areas:
Occupational health and safety
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe three temporal patterns in public school environments in NYS List the top three most prevalent indoor air quality concerns in NYS's public schools

Keywords: Indoor Environment, School Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on the content I am responsible for because I contributed to the data analysis conducted for this project.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.