Ventilation and Asbestos in Schools
This article, courtesy of the Washington State Department of Health, dicusses how construction can impact ventilation in schools. One of the hazards in remodeling old school buildings is caused by exposure to asbestos, which is known to cause serious diseases such as mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer and asbestosis.
Like other construction activities, remodeling and renovation may produce gases, vapors, dust, and other indoor air contaminants. Measures should be taken to adequately ventilate work areas while minimizing the release of indoor air contaminants to other areas of the building. This can be accomplished by restricting air flows from the work area, providing supplemental or auxiliary work area ventilation, and using pressure containment (keeping the work area at a negative pressure with respect to the occupied areas).
Examples of ventilation controls include:
Blocking off or sealing return air registers so that contaminants are not drawn from the demolition/construction area and recirculated into adjoining occupied areas; Installing temporary barriers to confine dust and noise; and Setting up temporary local exhaust fans to remove odors and contaminants.
Caution should be used to avoid the exhaust of contaminated air near outside air intakes.
If necessary, fumes, dust, gas, and vapor suppression and/or auxiliary air filtration or cleaning may be used to control the release of contaminants. Care should be taken to inspect, clean and replace air filters during and after remodeling or renovation, since additional dust and other contaminants are generated.
Some renovation or remodeling may expose asbestos-containing materials. Asbestos building inspections and surveys are required prior to bidding any construction related work.