Controlling Dust in Schools

Some children are allergic to dust. Dust can also accumulate odours and can be a substrate for mould growth or dust mites if indoor humidities are high. The physical design of a school or classroom can affect the ease of removal of dust, and the procedures used to remove dust vary widely in their effectiveness.

Conventional vacuums may increase airborne dust concentrations. Vacuuming is least effective for the very small particle sizes that have the greatest potential to create allergy problems or asthma.

Vacuuming with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) type cleaner or with those that entrain dust in a liquid medium (wet-vacs) is more effective.

Caution should be used with liquid medium systems, since they can distribute dust mite antigens in an aerosol form. To minimize problems with liquid medium systems, vacuuming should be performed after normal school hours to allow antigens to dissipate before peak building occupancy.

Door mats placed at building entrances may also be used to help prevent soiling of carpets with dust and debris, as well as moisture.

Some schools are considering asking students to bring a pair of indoor shoes, to minimize the spread of outdoor soil within the building.

Closed classroom cupboards for storage of books and other items make it easier to keep a classroom relatively dust-free. The more loose items accumulate on counters and open shelves, the more difficult it is to control dust. For example, an allergic child may get a large dose of dust when removing a book from a shelf.

  Record #12, revised 1/18/2001


Related Topics (click for further information)

1. Sources of Indoor Pollution in Schools


Related Case Studies

1. Top Ten Concerns for a Healthful School Environment
2. Waterloo District School Board Plant Operations
3. Durham District School Board Indoor Environment Procedures
4. ALA Indoor Air Quality Program for Oklahoma Schools

Primary Sources

1. School IAQ Best Management Practices Manual


Related Resources

1. IAQ Tools for Schools Action Kit
2. The Healthy School Handbook
3. How Asthma-Friendly Is Your School?

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