There are no two ways about it, parents feel helpless when their kids who are away at college get sick, and home-cooked chicken soup is not an option. Armed with some facts and easy preventative measures, parents can send their students back to school, knowing they have a proactive role in helping to mitigate a myriad of illnesses.
The running joke that the college dorm room is a petri dish is not too far from the truth. From more cold and flu viruses in the air because of enclosed environments to unwashed clothes stowed away in gym bags, wet towels tossed in the corner of the room, to slippers under the bed collecting dust, take the average kids’ room at home and multiply it by two to four kids, and left unchecked by dutiful parents. Not to mention the wall-to-wall carpeting that only gets cleaned once a year, shared bathrooms, and too much more that you don’t even want to think about.
Before I continue with some serious facts about the air quality, or lack thereof in dorm rooms, parents should take comfort knowing they can at least improve the air quality in their kids’ room. Send kids back to school with a good quality room air purifier.
Look for a unit with a True HEPA filtration to remove 99.97 percent of airborne pollutants as small as 0.3 microns to capture pollen, dust, and other airborne particulates.
It’s hard enough for homeowners to remember to change air filters every three, you can count on the fact that a college student won’t remember. “Unlike most air purifiers with True HEPA filters needing to be changed every few months, the True HEPA filters in Sharp Air Purifiers only need to be changed every two years. The benefits of True HEPA are there, plus the benefits of PCI,” says Peter Weedfald, the Senior Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Sharp Home Appliances.
I have lived with a Sharp Plasmacluster ® Ion Air Purifier in my bedroom for more than a year and can personally attest to the fact that I am breathing more freely, and I can’t even smell my dog whose bed is on the floor right next to me.
Sharp’s patented Plasmacluster ® Ion technology creates positive and negative ions. “They fly through the air, looking for viruses, bacteria, pet dander, mold, mildew, and odors—anything they can attach themselves to. Then the plasmacluster ion steals the hydrogen, and floats away as water vapor, while the remains of the now inactive pollutant simply fall apart,” says Weedfald. “Once the plasmacluster ions take all of the hydrogens out of a pollutant, any leftover bits normally get stuck to and whisked-away in the newly created water molecule.”
Facts About Indoor Air Quality in Dorm Rooms
According to a report from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the indoor air quality (IAQ) of homes and other buildings can be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. The EPA also estimated that people spend approximately 90 percent of their time indoors, including the schoolroom, the workplace, and home. The report goes on to say, “for many people, the risks to health may be greater due to exposure to air pollution indoors rather than outdoors.”
In the past few years, there have been several reports of students needing to be relocated after experiencing respiratory problems and other ailments, such as headaches and cognitive issues due to mold found in their dorm rooms.
Numerous studies have been conducted on the IAQ of homes, K-12 schools, and workplace environments, but until recently, little has been done concerning college campuses. In August 2019, the EPA published findings of its, “Characterization of Indoor Air Quality on a College Campus: A Pilot Study.”
The study points out, “the higher education sector represents a unique environment in that it acts as a work environment for faculty, a learning environment for students, and frequently, a home environment for students.”
What parents wouldn’t be happy knowing that their college kids are in a dorm room in a brand-new building that was designed for efficiency and sustainability? Some buildings even qualify for LEED certification. Defined by the U.S. Green Building Council, LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design is the most widely used green building rating system in the world. Available for virtually all building, community, and home project types, LEED provides a framework to create healthy, highly efficient, and cost-saving green buildings.
Shockingly, the report published by the EPA stated, “LEED certification was found to have no positive impact on air quality, contrary to our initial hypothesis. Instead, our results suggest that while being built with efficiency and sustainability in mind, air quality measurements were higher in the LEED-certified building type,” The study measured particulate matter, formaldehyde, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides in LEED-certified, retrofitted, and conventional building types on a college campus.
The report goes on to say that more research is warranted to reveal building features and human behaviors contributing to indoor exposures.
In addition to sending your college kids back to school with an air purifier, remind them to use hand sanitizer, clean surfaces and vacuum the carpet often, and don’t leave wet towels in a pile. One day maybe they will thank you!