AIHA Exposure Scientist Aims to Address Poor Indoor Air Quality in Schools, Health Risks to Students

Interview OEHS Expert Alex LeBeau on strategies to improve school indoor air quality (IAQ) and resources for keeping students and educators healthy

What: AIHA Member Alex LeBeau, PhD, MPH, CIH, a leading occupational and environmental health and safety (OEHS) exposure scientist, or “building scientist,” is available for interview about strategies for improving indoor air quality (IAQ) in schools. Journalists covering news related to the health and safety of teachers, school personnel, and students at school are invited to speak with LeBeau on such topics as:

  • The five most effective ways to improve IAQ in schools
  • A building scientist’s guidance for protecting students from poor air quality
  • Current health risks to students, teachers, and other school personnel
  • Actions that can be taken immediately to protect students
  • The future of IAQ in schools

Examples of questions that journalists may consider asking LeBeau include:

Why: IAQ issues may arise from outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, off-gassing from construction materials and interior furnishings, or damaged building materials. These invisible hazards can cause health risks and decrease indoor environmental quality for students, teachers, and other school personnel.

According to OEHS experts, inadequate air quality inside school buildings takes a toll on student performance and is associated with increased absences. Improving school air quality will provide better health and educational outcomes, particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that have long faced underinvestment in school infrastructure. In addition, improving IAQ will reduce the spread of COVID-19, which experts now agree is transmitted primarily via airborne droplets.

Who: Alex LeBeau, PhD, MPH, CIH, chairs AIHA’s Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) committee. He is the principal toxicologist at Exposure Assessment LLC, as well as the consulting service’s founder. Over his thirteen-year career, LeBeau’s work has included performing human health risk assessments using EPA and state regulatory guidelines for contaminated sites and conducting IAQ assessments for healthcare, residential, and industrial facilities. With AIHA, he has worked to create resources on IAQ and other occupational health issues, such as by co-authoring the Workplace Cleaning for COVID-19 guidance document (PDF). LeBeau and AIHA aim to build awareness of often-overlooked IAQ hazards and provide practical guidance on reducing risks.

AIHA is an association of scientists and professionals committed to preserving OEHS in the workplace and community. The association has developed guidance for school IAQ, available on its Healthy Schools webpage, and was cited as a resource in EPA’s school IAQ reference guide, which accompanied the Biden-Harris Building Better School Infrastructure Action Plan.

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