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Groups investigating air quality in Milwaukee daycares

Posted: 12:42 PM, Jul 18, 2019
Updated: 2019-07-18 23:29:12-04
Teacher reading a book to students at daycare.

More people go to the hospital for asthma in Milwaukee County than any other county in the state. Local groups are working to prevent kids from developing asthma in the first place. They're taking a look at daycares, where it's common for kids to spend 10 hours a day.

"There's very little information out there at all about what is indoor air quality like in daycares," said Anne Dressel, a UWM College of Nursing assistant professor.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fight Asthma Milwaukee Allies and The Medical College of Wisconsin are taking a look at the indoor air quality in 36 Milwaukee daycares, such as Elaine Schreiber Child Development Center at 64th and Silver Spring.

Students sitting at a table at a daycare in Milwaukee County

"I've never considered actually having our air quality tested," said Kimberly Lowe of the Elaine Schreiber Child Development Center.

Dressel said Milwaukee County is the worst in the state for asthma-related hospitalizations and asthma-related emergency department visits.

"If we can improve indoor air quality in places like daycares, where young kids spend a lot of their time, they'll be less likely to have asthma-related problems, perhaps less likely to develop asthma at all," said Dressel.

Erin Lee of Fight Asthma Milwaukee Allies and the Medical College of Wisconsin said they're testing the air with foobots by placing the device in the rooms where the most kids are spending most of their time.

Two female students sitting at a table at a Milwaukee daycare

"It's like a passive sampling system, so as the air moves through it is measuring particulate matter, a volatile organic compound, temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide," said Lee.

Investigators keep the foobot at the daycare for four months. Halfway through, they teach the centers about things to help lower the indoor air quality such as green cleaning, personal care and pest control products.

"It helped us to become more aware of the products that we're using within the center," said Lowe.

Preliminary results showed there is room for improvement in the air quality in daycares. It seems to be worse in home-based care facilities versus the larger centers. The goal is that the air quality gets better if and when daycares turn to green products.

We'll be sure to update you on the complete results once the study is complete.