Chapter 5: Facilities, Supplies, Equipment, and Environmental Health
5.2 Quality of the Outdoor and Indoor Environment
5.2.1 Ventilation, Heating, Cooling, and Hot Water
126.96.36.199: Ensuring Access to Fresh Air Indoors
After reading the CFOC standard, see COVID-19 modification below (Also consult applicable state licensure and public health requirements).
As much fresh outdoor air as possible should be provided in rooms occupied by children. Screened windows should be opened whenever weather and the outdoor air quality permits (1). When windows are not able to be opened, rooms should be ventilated, as specified in Standards 188.8.131.52-184.108.40.206. The specified rates at which outdoor air must be supplied to each room within the facility range from fifteen to sixty cubic feet per minute per person (cfm/p). The rate depends on the activities that normally occur in that room. Indoor air should be kept as free from unnecessary chemicals and fragrances as possible.
Ionizers or products that use UV lights are not recommended. Do not use air cleaner devices with ozonators, ultraviolet (UV) lights, or ionization features, since they are unnecessary and some produce ozone, which can be harmful and trigger respiratory problems such as asthma.
COVID-19 modification as of March 20, 2023:
Improving ventilation is an important COVID-19 prevention strategy that can reduce the number of virus particles in the air. In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on ventilation, it is recommended that staff:
When Transporting Children
American Society of Heating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
California Childcare Health Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Children’s Environmental Health Network
New Jersey Department of Health
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Harvard School of Public Health and UC, Colorado Boulder
The health and well-being of both the staff and the children can be greatly affected by indoor air quality. The air people breathe inside a building can be contaminated with germs shared between people, chemicals emitted from common consumer products and furnishings, and polluted outdoor air entering into the program.1, 2 Additionally, the presence of dirt, moisture, and warmth encourages the growth of mold and other contaminants, which can trigger allergic reactions and asthma.3
Children’s exposure to contaminated or polluted air (indoor and outdoor) is associated numerous health effects such as respiratory problems including increased asthma incidence, allergies, preterm birth, low birth weight, neurodevelopmental disorders, some cancers, IQ loss, and risk for adult chronic diseases .2-5 Children are more vulnerable to air pollution because their organs (respiratory, central nervous system, etc.) are still developing and they breathe in more air relative to their weight than adults.5 Air circulation is essential to clear infectious disease agents, odors, and toxic substances in the air.
Carbon dioxide levels are an indicator of the quality of ventilation. Higher Oxygen levels and lower Carbon Dioxide from fresh air promotes a better learning environment.7 Air circulation can be adjusted by a properly installed and adjusted heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and cooling (HVAC) system as well as by using fans and open windows.
Qualified engineers can ensure heating, ventilation, air conditioning (HVAC) systems are functioning properly and that applicable standards are being met. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) Website includes the qualifications required of its members and the location of the local ASHRAE chapter. The contractor who services the HVAC system should provide evidence of successful completion of ASHRAE or comparable courses.
- National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
- Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. New England Chapter.
The following organizations can provide further information on air quality and on ventilation:
- The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE)
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Public Information Center
- The American Gas Association (AGA)
- The Edison Electric Institute (EEI)
- The American Lung Association (ALA)
- The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC)
- The Safe Building Alliance (SBA)
TYPE OF FACILITYCenter, Early Head Start, Head Start, Large Family Child Care Home, Small Family Child Care Home
RELATED STANDARDS220.127.116.11 Playing Outdoors
18.104.22.168 Protection from Air Pollution While Children Are Outside
22.214.171.124 Indoor Temperature and Humidity
126.96.36.199 Heating and Ventilation Equipment Inspection and Maintenance
188.8.131.52 Ventilation When Using Art Materials
184.108.40.206 Ventilation of Recently Carpeted or Paneled Areas
220.127.116.11 Ventilation to Control Odors
18.104.22.168 Carbon Monoxide Detectors
American Lung Association. Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe. Updated April 8, 2020. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/ventilation-buildings-breathe
United States Environmental Protection Agency. Volatile Organic Compounds' Impact on Indoor Air Quality. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.epa.gov/indoor-air-quality-iaq/volatile-organic-compounds-impact-indoor-air-quality
Gaspar, F. W., et al. Ultrafine, fine, and black carbon particle concentrations in California child‐care facilities. Indoor air. 2018;28.1: 102-111. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/ina.12408
Danh C. Vu, Thi L. Ho, Phuc H. Vo, et al. Assessment of indoor volatile organic compounds in Head Start child care facilities. Atmospheric Environment. 2019; 215 ( 116900):1352-2310, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.atmosenv.2019.116900
Brumberg, H. L., Karr, C.J.. Ambient Air Pollution: Health Hazards to Children. Pediatrics. 2021: 147.6.
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. Standard 62.1 -2019: Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality. ISSN 1041-2336. Published October 2019. Accessed July 28, 2021. https://www.ashrae.org/technical-resources/standards-and-guidelines
Marcotte D. Something in the air? Air quality and children's educational outcomes. Economics of education review. 2017;56. doi:10.1016/j.econedurev.2016.12.003
Content in the STANDARD was modified on 8/25/2016 and 09/23/2021.
COVID-19 Modification as of March 20, 2023.