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Preschools and bad air quality

  1. Apr 22, 2016 #1


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    Perhaps someone here can help me. I have looked
    at many day cares and preschools here in Sunnyvale,
    California and the air quality is poor. Many house
    12 to 20 kids (whose respiration is effectively
    similar to adults) and 2 teachers
    in a room that is small enough that if it were a
    workplace, OSHA would cite it. To make matters
    worse, as a Polish
    study (2015, Anna Mainka) points out, the
    children sleep in the same room.

    When I walk in the door the CO2 level is 1200 to
    2000+. "Is CO2 an indoor pollutant?" by Satish et
    al. in 2012 found cognitive deficits in people
    in environments above 1000 p.p.m. of CO2. To me,
    cognitive deficits means something unhealthy is
    going on in the brain. Plus, their little
    developing bodies are more sensitive to insults
    than our (adults') grown bodies.

    Bing Nursery School at Stanford is lush with good
    acreage. However, the 40
    minute drive is too much for us, and it's hard to
    get in.

    Anyone have any suggestions? (Our son is 2 1/4
    years old and the other is 3 months.)
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2016 #2


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    Welcome to PF!

    I'm an HVAC engineer and ventilation/air quality is somewhat of a specialty of mine. And I've done a handful of studies/projects with schools. A few things:

    1. What are you measuring the CO2 level with?

    2. A new study aside, OSHAhas set 5,000 ppm as its long-term time weighted average limit for a 40 hr work week:
    http://www.blm.gov/style/medialib/blm/wy/information/NEPA/cfodocs/howell.Par.2800.File.dat/25apxC.pdf [Broken]

    3. However, CO2 is used as a surrogate for general air quality instead of measuring other pollutants and human effluents and 1200 ppm is about the limit of what ASRHAE engineering guidelines consider acceptable (it's more complicated than just a limit, but close enough).

    So the question is, is 2,000 ppm enough to warrant complaining about it and all the potential drama that comes with it? In my opinion, no, unless there is some actual indication of health problems.

    One thing poor ventilation can do is cause germs to live longer (due to high humidity) and persist longer in the air (rather than being diluted-out with fresh air). But even then, kids share germs, so it is tough to pinpoint a cause of a lot of them getting sick.

    Without details about how the system operates, it is tough to provide more info on what could be done about it...
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  4. Apr 23, 2016 #3

    Fervent Freyja

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    How do you know CO2 levels for the daycare? Of course they will take a nap in the same room...

    There are five programs within 50 miles of your area that are NAEYC accredited: http://www.naeyc.org/academy/accreditation/search

    Even if you use a daycare that is not accredited, there are still national and state requirements that they must all abide by: http://www.naeyc.org/academy/files/academy/Standards%20and%20Accreditation%20Criteria%20%26%20Guidance%20for%20Assessment_04.2016.pdf [Broken]

    A suggestion since you asked: You mentioned "us", so does that mean that there are two providers in the home? Is it possible for one of you to remain at home to take care of the babies? I'm asking because Bing Nursery School at Stanford has near the same yearly tuition cost for one child as mine at university... Wouldn't that be $30,000 for both to attend yearly? A 24 hour live-in nanny could be hired for that amount. I understand that some households must have two parents working in order to survive. You seem anxious about placing them in daycare. I totally understand! I'm thankful to have in-laws that I trust very much to take care of my daughter for 20 hours a week while I attend class, if it weren't for them I would still choose to stay-at-home/school until she begins Kindergarten. I would still be that anxious, the standards and regulations for daycare/preschool programs are far lower than for public/private schools K-12. Hopefully, that will improve for children within the next few years. Good luck.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 7, 2017
  5. Apr 23, 2016 #4


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    I am measuring with an
    Amprobe CO2-100. About $250 + $20 shipping off Amazon;
    it looks like a red walkie talkie.

    Thank you for the information r.w. It's nice
    to hear the
    thoughts of a professional.

    I agree that a greater concern than the actual CO2 is
    the corollaric poor ventilation. Also, interesting
    point about the humidity.

    One interesting thing is that before we started taking
    him home at 12:30pm (before the nap), he got sick
    perhaps once a month. Ever since we started taking him
    home to sleep, he hasn't gotten sick (one very minor).
    This has been about 4 months. However, it's not winter
    anymore (not to mention not sleeping at school lowers
    the sheer time spent in that room by 40%)

    Thanks F.F., that N.A.E.Y.C. search is handy.

    We already have a (almost) live-in helper for the 3
    month old. It helps a lot. My wife, and her mother at
    times, are
    also doing a large part of the child care. It's just
    that things could still use a little extra relief (I
    know we are very lucky.) Bringing him home and putting
    him to sleep at 12:30pm.. (the 2 1/4 year old)

    Indeed, Bing or other extra day care would be a cost.
    I am trying to give my
    kids an optimal development,
    and believe that we will be able to make
    money in the future to catch up on retirement savings.
    (I don't mean to imply that you are not giving your
    kids an optimal development, just wish to explain why
    if I seem over-concerned)
  6. Apr 23, 2016 #5


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    People spread colds. I suspect that by taking him home you just reduced exposure. I got fewer colds when I retired.

    PS Its possible to be over protective. It would never have occurred to me to measure CO2 levels at the daycare place our kids went to. They grew up in Belgium where schools sometimes have braziers in the playground!
  7. Apr 25, 2016 #6


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    Hm. Something to think about.
  8. Apr 30, 2016 #7

    Fervent Freyja

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    No need to explain for caring about your children, it is certainly normal to direct that much focus on their development in the first few years. My Husband also became even more fixated on planning for the distant future. This is probably hard-wired in males, thankfully. Both of us have demonstrated some odd behaviors but also some good changes since becoming parents. The anxiety should lessen for you soon. As they start to develop more intellectually and discover their person-hood, they will become your fascinating little muses. :smile:

    Here are some support links; the forums there may direct you to some solutions:
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