Concern: Stevens Forest Elementary School: January 9th, 2023 (CXSFES202300026B)

Portable 104 (closet to the gymnasium)
Date of IEQ Report Form
Date of Report
The room had an odor last week, most likely from the a/c heater unit. A general health symptom was reported when leaving school each day since winter break.
IEQ Investigation Process

Identify deficiencies that may impact IEQ and/or sources of odor concerns. Typically includes the following depending on the nature of concern, but not limited to:

  • interview/questionnaire of concern individual(s)
  • inspection above drop ceiling (condition of roof deck, pipe insulation, return air plenum)
  • inspection of ventilation system (operation of variable air volume box and outdoor air dampers, check controls, measurements of carbon dioxide, temperature and relative humidity, sources near outdoor air intake, measure return and supply air volume, cleanliness of coils, liner and condensate pan)
  • inspection of exterior
  • inspection below drop ceiling (housekeeping, sink and floor drain traps, signs of past and present moisture concern via visual and/or moisture meter, mold growth, ensure connection of current and capping of abandoned sanitary vents, odorizers, excessive plants and fabric items, identify potential pathways, and measure volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, and lighting)

Date(s) of Assessments: January 17, 18, and 25, 2023 

The interior of the portable is finished with drywall, a carpeted walk-off mat near the entrance door, floor tile, and a drop-ceiling. 

The temperature (71.0 degrees Fahrenheit (F), carbon dioxide (544 parts per million (ppm), and carbon monoxide (0.0 ppm) was acceptable (reading taken prior to occupancy).

No moldy/musty odors were sensed within the portable (January 17, 18, and 25).

The relative humidity (23.9%) could be considered low, however this is expected during this time of year as outside humidity levels are also low.

The portable was screened using a thermal imaging camera. No thermal anomalies indicative of moisture intrusion were identified.

The carpeted area was probed with a moisture meter. No elevated moisture was detected within the carpet. 

The drywall was probed in various locations near windows and doors. No elevated moisture was detected in these locations. 

The thermostat settings were within HCPSS standard guidelines.

The exterior of the portable was assessed. Minor perforations were noted in the metal siding, near the main entry door.

The Office of the Environment placed a data logger (January 18) to measure carbon dioxide concentrations within the portable overtime. Carbon dioxide can be used as an indicator for determining if sufficient outdoor ventilation is being provided to the space. Notes regarding the carbon dioxide levels measured during data logging:

  • Slightly elevated carbon dioxide concentrations were identified on three occasions during data logging. In general, the elevated concentrations were identified around noon on two occasions and around 3PM on one occasion. This may suggest a malfunction with the heating ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems outside air damper (allows outside air to be delivered to space for dilution) or it may suggest overcrowding of the space. 
  • Building Maintenance (HVAC) assessed the unit for proper operation on January 19, 2023 and reported the following:
    • The air filter is in good condition and was recently replaced. 
    • The coils are in good condition. 
    • The refrigerant is adequately charged.
    • The outdoor air dampers are functioning properly.
    • The supply ductwork was assessed and no loose connections were identified.
  • Building Maintenance (HVAC) returned on January 27, 2023 (after the data logging results were reviewed) to determine if the outside air dampers could be opened further than their current setting. The dampers were already at there maximum setting and cannot be further altered.
  • The Office of the Environment reviewed the school schedule for the portable. The elevated carbon dioxide levels coincide with time slots the portable is the most occupied (18-20 students plus staff). The number of students in the portable appears consistent with other HCPSS portables.  
  • It should be noted that carbon dioxide itself does not represent an environmental health concern at the levels measured in the space (i.e. less than 5,000 ppm). Carbon dioxide is simply used as an indicator to assess outdoor air ventilation rates.

Based on the above, the portable and its associated HVAC unit are considered under the same standard of care as other HCPSS portables of similar construction/installation date (with the exception of the perforations on the exterior siding).

The concerned individual could speak with their medical provider about how/if low humidity plays a factor in the general health symptom reported. However, it should be noted that HCPSS does not humidify via the HVAC system as it is not the industry standard for HVAC design for this region and it can introduce additional environmental concerns (ex: humidifier fever). Additionally, portable humidifiers are not permitted because if not properly maintained they can harbor bacteria and introduce additional environmental concerns.

Corrective Actions
January 17th, 2023

A work order for Building Maintenance was created to assess and address the perforations in the siding. 

January 17th, 2023

A work order was created for Building Maintenance (HVAC) to assess the Portable's HVAC unit for proper operation. 

Date Closed
Tracking Number