Ways in which carpeting can affect a school's indoor air quality (IAQ) are discussed. Carpeting is defined as a system of components that includes pads, adhesives, floor preparation compounds, and seam sealers. For the last several years, these products have been increasingly scrutinized as to how they affect IAQ. Carpeting gives off volatile chemical vapors and it is recommended that schools test for volatile organic compounds (VOC) and work to lower these levels in the air. Other factors that school officials should consider regarding IAQ include microbial contamination, particularly through fungi growth, and water intrusion. Some recommended control methods involve using VOC emission data, using antimicrobial treatments, airing new products, minimizing the use of adhesives and sealers, baking out new carpet by raising the indoor temperature and then ventilating to accelerate the emission and removal of VOCs, cleaning new carpets with a high-efficiency particulate air filtration vacuum, and providing routine maintenance for the carpet, such as a vacuuming schedule, prompt stain removal, and shampooing or hot-water extraction. The strengths and weaknesses of having carpeting in a school are discussed.
Maryland Department of Education, School Facilities Branch, 200 W. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21201; Tel: 410-767-0098
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