A HEALTHY SCHOOL
is as easy as
Air ® Biologicals ® Chemicals ® Dust
A is for Air, the most important feature of a healthy school. Nationally, The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) says that one in five students attends a school with poor indoor air quality. A healthy building is filled with clean, fresh air. In a "sick school" the facilityís air contains many contaminates. Biologicals, such as mold, Chemicals, like formaldehyde, Dust, pollens and animal dander can accumulate inside. All of these can cause a variety of health and behavioral problems in adults and children.
Asthma and Allergies ® Behavior ® Concentration ® Diverse Symptoms
Frequent respiratory infections, Allergies and Asthma may be caused and aggravated by the unhealthy air in a sick school.
Medical studies show that certain chemical exposures as well as some allergic reactions may induce inappropriate Behavior in children. Common neurological (brain-related) symptoms include mood swings, "acting out," aggression, depression, poor Concentration and short-term memory loss.
In the case of chemical exposures, medical studies point to the neurotoxic qualities of many substances. Also, recent research indicates that certain synthetic chemicals (known as "endocrine disruptors") may impair the hormonal system. Scientists now say that they may not only affect brain function, but growth and development, as well. Disorders like A.D.D., dyslexia and some learning differences may be also related to these toxic exposures.
A range of Diverse Symptoms can result from poor air quality and indoor exposures. They include: headaches, dizziness, tiredness, lethargy, chronic infections, allergies, digestive disorders, muscle pain and arthritis.
Air Conditioning/Heating Systems ® Building Products ® Cleaning Products ® Drainage
Is your school healthy?
To find out, first check its Air Conditioning and Heating Systems. Often, in order to lower utility bills, the schoolís air intake may be reduced to substandard levels. When too little fresh air is coming into the school, carbon dioxide levels can rise and pollutants will concentrate inside. All schools should be able to confirm that they meet national ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers) standards. Ask qualified experts to evaluate your system -- including the air ducts -- and to make recommendations.
Building Products, including paints, flooring, carpets, ceiling tiles, caulks and grouts, can contain a variety of toxic chemicals. Many of their ingredients have been found to cause respiratory and other health problems, including cancer. Less and nontoxic building products are available and should be exclusively utilized, especially in areas that cannot be aired for long periods of time before children and staff return.
Cleaning Products, such as formulas for windows, desk and carpet cleaning, often contain ammonia, a respiratory irritant, and other toxic substances. Since many effective and safe alternatives to these products are available, schools should make it a policy to order only nontoxic cleaning supplies.
Ask About Products ® Be Proactive ®
Check out Alternatives ® Develop a Plan
Where do you start? First, Ask About the Products that are currently being used in you school and:
Next, Check Out Alternatives: ask an environmental health organization; do research; read books; bring in a consultant; visit stores that have less or nontoxic products -- do any of these things that will help you clarify what should be used. Also, how and where to get what you need.
Finally, in conjunction with school administration, Develop a Plan. Itemize the problems faced by your school from the most serious to least threatening. Assign each a cost, such as the expense involved in cleaning air ducts. Where possible, compare new costs to previous ones. (Keep in mind that budgeting is of primary concern to most schools.) Finally, develop a time line to have each of the planís goals implemented on a schedule. And do not forget to educate administrators, teachers, parents and children regarding the benefits of having a healthy school. You can even make the healthy transformation as an education project for the entire school itself!
American Environmental Health Foundation, 800/428-2343, www.aehf.com
City of Santa Monica, CA -- Environmental, Programs Division 310/458/2255
American Academy of Environmental Medicine, 215/862-4544, www.aaem.com
Dr. Doris Rapp www.drrapp.com
Environmental Protection Agency, www.epa.gov (Tools for Schools, www.EPA.gov/iag/schools/tools)
Texas Department of Health, www.tdh.state.tx.us/ech/env/iag.htm
Circle your best answer: 1-Little 2-Medium Amount 3-Much/Most/All
1. To what extent does your school subscribe to ASHRAE standards? 1 2 3
2. What percentage of low or nontoxic products are used? 1 2 3
3. How much of the school is carpeted? 1 2 3
4. What percentage of the carpet is new? 1 2 3
5. How much chemical-based pest control is used? 1 2 3
6. How intensely has the school experienced roof leaks/water seepage in the past year? 1 2 3
7. What type of remodeling has the school experienced in the last two years? 1 2 3
8. How much of the time is cleaning performed in which chemicals are used during school hours? 1 2 3
9. How much of the interior of the school has been painted within the last two years? 1 2 3
Scoring: 0-10 (You are in good shape.) 11-19(Better get to work.) 20-27(Kiss your kids good-bye!)
A HELPFUL SOLUTION
In 1975 the American Environmental Health Foundation was founded to fund and conduct medical research and education in the environmental aspects of health and disease. The Foundation Store provides more than 1,500 environmentally safe products for the home, office and school including:
Air Filters and Purifiers, Pollutant Detection Kits, Organic Cotton Clothing, Cotton Bath and Bedding
Household Cleaning Products, Personal Care Products, Water Filters Systems, Vitamin & Minerals,
Home Improvement Products: Paints, Sealers, Stains, Caulks, Adhesives, Saunas
Lawn, Garden and Pet Products, "How to" Books and Articles
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or visit our Internet site & store, www.aehf.com