Indoor Air Quality

The Community College of Rhode Island administration is aware of the importance of maintaining a healthy indoor environment and strives to provide it at all times for its faculty, staff and students. CCRI's approach to maintaining good indoor air quality is many-fold and involves the participation of a wide segment of the College community.

  1. The HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) systems at each campus are maintained according to the latest technical standards. All systems are operated under preventative maintenance programs. System components such as blowers, ducts, heating coils, chillers and filters are inspected and serviced by outside contractors as well as trained in-house personnel. Service is on a predetermined regular schedule. Special inspections and maintenance may be done in response to system malfunctions and complaints by College staff.
  2. Operation of the HVAC systems is controlled by a computerized system that anticipates heating and cooling loads over a 24-hour period. Overrides of the system are done when a building or room is to be used for an unusual purpose or for a function not on the regular schedule.
  3. CCRI is a completely smoke-free college. That means that no smoking is allowed in any indoor area, including classrooms, cafeterias, field houses and outbuildings. This rule enacted by the Rhode Island Board of Governors of Higher Education in 1996 has helped immeasurably to ensure that the air in the buildings is of the highest possible quality.
  4. Sources of common indoor air pollutants are practically nonexistent within the College. Almost all indoor painting is done with water-based rather than oil-based paints, which are known to emit toxic vapors. Welding and spray painting operations are done inside air-capturing enclosures to protect workers and keep pollutants out of the general air circulation. Chemistry laboratory experiments that emit toxic vapors have been scaled down in size and are done inside laboratory fume hoods. All cafeteria cooking equipment at the Flanagan and Knight Campuses uses electricity rather than gas. Natural gas is known to produce toxic nitrogen oxides when it burns. (The only exception is the gas burning stoves at the Liston Campus kitchen. These stoves are equipped with venting hoods.) New carpeting is installed only with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) cements to minimize air pollution. Vehicle maintenance operations are never performed indoors in the main buildings where they could emit gasoline vapors and carbon monoxide. Almost all elemental mercury, which can cause severe air contamination if spilled, has been removed from the College. There are no mercury-containing thermostats in the buildings. All mercury containing barometers and most mercury manometers have been removed from laboratories. The few manometers that remain are protected by secondary containment in case of breakage or spill. All mercury thermometers have been replaced by alcohol-in-glass or digital thermometers.
  5. The College owns testing equipment that can test the air for suspected pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, ozone, mercury, hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde and phenol. In spite of repeated tests, most of these substances have never been detected in CCRI's indoor air in harmful concentrations. Requests to test for these can be directed to the Director of Administration. A portable carbon dioxide tester is used to monitor air exchanges. The HVAC system of the newly constructed Knight Campus wings is equipped with automatic carbon dioxide sensors.
  6. As a general rule the HVAC systems are operated with the maximum number of (outdoor) air exchanges per hour that are consistent with maintaining proper temperature and humidity levels. A high rate of air exchange insures the lowest possible levels of indoor pollutants.
  7. To report any problems with air quality, (rooms too hot, too cold, stuffy, no air circulation, odors, smoke, noisy air ducts, air ducts apparently not working, etc.) any College employee can immediately call Physical Plant Operations for the campus experiencing the problem. The telephone numbers are: Flanagan Campus, 333-7047 or 333-7048, Liston Campus, 455-6044, Newport Campus 851-1606 and Knight Campus, 825-2118. If no one answers the phone, leave a recorded message giving your name, telephone extension, the date of the problem and its exact location. Kenneth McCabe, Physical Plant Director may be contacted at 825-2111 or if a problem is not resolved quickly. Air quality problems are given the highest priority and are investigated as soon as possible.
  8. CCRI's Environmental/Safety Committee, Chaired by the Director of Administration, is composed of a cross-section of College faculty, students and staff and meets on a regular basis to discuss a wide range of safety and environmental issues. Anyone in the CCRI community can bring an air quality complaint to the attention of a committee member who will put it on the next meeting's agenda. Click on Environmental/Safety Committee to read the committee's introductory page. To read minutes of past meetings, click on the date of the meeting you want.

During the ongoing construction of the new Knight Campus wings and the many changes being made to the HVAC system, every effort is being made to maintain the balance of the system and ensure the comfort of the building inhabitants.

For information about what the federal government is doing about indoor air quality, visit the website of the Environmental Protection Agency at This website has links to many other safety and environmental topics of great interest. For specific information on Tools for Schools, the EPA's program for helping school building occupants understand, diagnose and correct indoor air problems, start with the EPA Tools for Schools program at

To report any problems with air quality, call:

Knight Campus

Flanagan Campus

333-7047 or 333-7048

Liston Campus

Newport Campus

If no one answers the phone, leave a recorded message giving your name, telephone extension, the date of the problem and its exact location.

Kenneth McCabe
Physical Plant Director
may be contacted at
825-2111 if a problem is not resolved quickly.

Air quality problems are given the highest priority and are investigated as soon as possible.

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Last Updated: 5/29/18