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Innovation Contributes to Improved School Attendance and Test Scores

Innovation Contributes to Improved School Attendance and Test Scores

According to a 2014 survey by the National Center for Education Statistics, nearly one-half of the nation's schools had poor indoor air quality that contributed to high levels of absenteeism associated with asthma and other health problems. However, rigorous cleaning using modern equipment can reduce exposure to allergy and asthma triggers.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends using vacuums with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to effectively capture dirt, dust and allergens. The filters help remove allergens from carpets and extend the life of the floor, as well as offer the versatility needed to remove dust and dirt that collects around vents and other above-the-floor surfaces.

Numerous studies analyzed by third-party research commissioned by CRI found that carpet actually offers better indoor environmental quality safeguards than hard-surface flooring, because carpet retains dust and allergens that would easily become airborne from tile or other hard surfaces.

Studies also found that vacuuming on both carpeted and hard surface school floors should be more frequent, with slower and repeated passes. Commercial backpack and canister vacuums can utilize a hard-surface tool (often included at purchase). Chose an upright vacuum that allows the brush roll to be turned off when on hard surfaces.

The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) has a Green Label program for the highest performing vacuums. Machines that achieve the CRI's Seal of Approval offer a good benchmark for product selection. Some vacuum models like the Sanitaire EON™ QuietClean® upright and the QuietClean backpack have earned the CRI's highest rating, the Gold Seal of Approval, thanks to their soil removal capabilities, filtration and quiet operation.

"Brooms and mops push dirt and allergens across the floor and into the air, whereas vacuuming removes them," says Dalvin Green, product manager for Sanitaire.

The EPA also recommends the use of CRI-certified carpet extractors to remove stains and residues from carpets. However, it is important to use carpet dryers or fans after extracting or shampooing carpets to prevent the added moisture from producing mold or leaving musty odors that could trigger asthma.

The focus on cleaning and other wellness initiatives can pay off significantly for schools, their students and teachers. The EPA cited Washington Green Schools, a voluntary program implemented in Washington State to improve school cleanliness and wellness. Participating schools reported a 15 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 5 percent increase in student test scores.

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