Huntington Beach, CA, November 19th, 2021
Back in 2004, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and Department of Public Health released their final report of a comprehensive study of environmental health conditions in portable classrooms in the state. The study was prompted by indoor environmental quality (IEQ) concerns about the potential for mold contamination, inadequate ventilation, poor temperature control, elevated levels of volatile chemicals, and excessive use of some pesticides.
With the increased use of portable classrooms, and many becoming permanent fixtures on school campuses, IEQ conditions are crucial for creating a positive learning environment and overall health. Not surprisingly, both portable and traditional classrooms were found to have some environmental conditions that required improvement according to the study.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports that the most common problems with portable classrooms include:
- Poorly functioning HVAC systems that provide minimal ventilation with outside air
- Poor acoustics from loud ventilation systems
- Chemical off-gassing from pressed wood and other high-emission materials, which may be of greater concern because of rapid occupancy after construction
- Water entry and mold growth
- Site pollution from nearby parking lots or loading areas
EPA specifically mentions the fact that pressed-wood products, which may contain higher concentrations of formaldehyde, are used more in the factory-built portable units than in buildings constructed on-site. As a result, levels of airborne chemicals may be higher in new portable classrooms, especially if ventilation is reduced. The agency also goes on to state that like all school facilities, portable classrooms should contain appropriate building and indoor surface materials, and properly designed ventilation systems to minimize the presence of indoor pollutants.
“Many portable classrooms across the nation lack adequate ventilation and suffer from a myriad of IEQ challenges,” said Michael Chapman, Laboratory Manager of LA Testing’s Huntington Beach facility. “At LA Testing, we offer IEQ and infection control testing services, sampling supplies, easy-to-use test kits, air and noise monitoring instruments, and more to help assess the indoor environment in portable classrooms and other learning facilities. These laboratory services and monitoring instruments help to ensure students and teachers have a healthy and productive classroom environment.”
LA Testing has sponsored an educational video about portable classrooms and IEQ that can be seen at: https://youtu.be/wWNxnYPrlH0
To learn more about this or other building science, infection control, environmental, health and safety testing services, please visit www.LATesting.com, email info@LATesting.com or call (800) 755-1794. For access to IEQ test kits, visit www.EMSLTestKits.com.
About LA Testing
LA Testing is California’s leading laboratory for indoor air quality testing of asbestos, mold, lead, VOCs, formaldehyde, soot, char, ash, and smoke damage, particulates, and other chemicals. In addition, LA Testing offers a full range of air sampling and investigative equipment to professionals and the public. LA Testing maintains an extensive list of accreditations including: AIHA-LAP, LLC (AIHA-LAP, LLC EMLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC IHLAP, AIHA-LAP, LLC ELLAP), CDC ELITE, NVLAP, State of California, State of Hawaii Department of Health, and other states. LA Testing, along with the EMSL Analytical, Inc. network, has multiple laboratories throughout California including South Pasadena, Huntington Beach, San Leandro, San Diego, and Ontario.