The Need for Citizen Science-Crowd Sourcing in Mold Recognition & Remediation
The building conditions in America’s public schools is recognized and reported to be “substandard” in a large % of buildings. Deficiencies including those to mold, moisture & dampness, lack of sufficient ventilation, particulate exposures from degraded wall, ceiling and paint materials, insect and rodent droppings all negatively impact on occupant health, comfort, attendance, achievement
The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers [PFT] directly represents almost 12,000 teachers and other educational and support staff in about 250 buildings in the 7th largest school district in the U.S. and the American Federation of Teachers [AFT] represents a total of about 1.5 million teachers and educational and support staff in tens of thousands of buildings across the country. These “stakeholders” have a direct interest in the IEQ conditions of the buildings in which they work and their “working conditions” are the children’s “learning conditions.”
Citizen science approaches to school building condition evaluation is needed now more than ever. Many of America’s 125,000 + public school buildings have serious deficiencies. According to statistics provided by the National Center for Educational Statistics, about 25% of schools report needing extensive repair & 12 million children & teachers attend these schools. Community Engaged Research [CEnR] & Community Based Participatory Research [CBPR] as described by the EPA, NIH & others is designed to help stakeholders more actively collaborate in research projects.
Since 2010, as part of an IEQ-citizen science based participatory approach to the collection of needed quantitative and qualitative data about school IEQ conditions, both the AFT & PFT have been directly engaged in “citizen science” data collection as a way to involve stakeholders in the problem identification & solution development process.
Involving stakeholders in this way can save money, engage people in the process of school evaluation and help facilitate and verify real repair work