Let s Talk about HEALTHY SCHOOLS

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1 Let s Talk about HEALTHY SCHOOLS Environmental Health Exposures in Schools Gary CARE Partnership February 2009

2 Healthy Schools is a Wholistic Approach Healthy Schools brings together many of the environmental health exposures the CARE Partnership has been looking at in the past year such as...

3 The Built Environment Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution: Dust Mold Fumes Air Pollutants and Irritants Exposure to Pesticides/Insecticides Toxic Chemicals

4 The Problem: According to the American Federation of Teachers: Unhealthy and unsafe school conditions make it difficult for students to concentrate, for teachers to teach, and for staff to do their jobs. Such conditions also lead to lower student attendance and reduced teacher and staff retention, at a time when testing requirements make attendance more important than ever and retaining good teachers is seen as a key ingredient in raising student achievement...

5 Poor school building conditions leave in place a terrible pattern of inequity a facilities gap in which low-income and minority children are disproportionately affected by often appalling physical conditions. The 21st Century School Fund, announcing its new report, states that:

6 minority children from low-income communities, particularly in central cities, had less than half the school building investment of children from the most affluent communities. The failure to invest in school buildings sends a cynical message of indifference to students, rather than showing them that we value their education. Building Minds, Minding Buildings American Federation of Teachers, 2006

7 OUTDOOR Environment Outdoor air pollution USA Today school air toxics report Other regional sources Proximity to high traffic areas Pesticide and Weed killers on school playing fields and lawns School bus idling

8 School Buses 24 million American children ride school buses daily. On average, these students spend an hour and a half each day in a school bus. School buses drive more than 4 billion miles each year. School buses are the safest way for children to get to school. However, pollution from older diesel vehicles has health implications for everyone, especially children.

9 Diesel emissions The vast majority of the friendly yellow buses that transport our children to school are powered by diesel engines. The exhaust from diesel buses contains over 40 toxic air contaminants, carcinogens, ozone smogforming compounds, and fine particulate matter ( soot ). Because of their small size, fine particles evade the body s natural defenses, such as coughing and sneezing, and penetrate deep into the lungs.

10 Exposure to fine particles is known to cause asthma attacks, heart attacks, lung cancer, stroke, and even premature death. Children are particularly vulnerable to this pollution, as their lungs are not yet fully developed. When diesel exhaust escapes out of the tailpipe untreated, it can cause immediate health impacts on those near the exterior of the bus, and contributes to our region s poor air quality.

11 Children are more vulnerable Children breathe 50% more air per pound of body weight than adults, thereby increasing their exposure rate to carcinogens contained in diesel exhaust. Diesel exhaust from idling can accumulate on and around the school buses, pollute the air inside the school building, and pose a health risk to children and school staff throughout the day.

12 Poor INDOOR Air Quality in students asthma Schools leads to: absences due to illnesses difficulty concentrating lower achievement A 2002 study found that researchers have repeatedly found a difference of between 5 and 17 percentile points in the achievement of students in poor buildings and students in standard buildings...

13 Elements of Indoor Air Quality Absence of Mold Ventilation Dust Exposure to toxic chemicals in cleaning supplies and other materials present in classrooms Pesticides, insecticides and pest control applications Temperature control Moisture control

14 Global Warming The 95,000+ public schools in the United States annually use trillion BTUs of energy at the cost of $6 billion. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, schools can reduce their energy usage by 25 percent simply by implementing energy efficiency measures. This would result in savings of $1.25 billion per year for schools and a reduction of approximately 23 million tons of carbon emissions.

15 Schools that are built and maintained using healthy and environmentally responsible guidelines (often called green schools ) use 40 percent less energy than traditionally constructed schools, resulting in even more remarkable savings and reduction of carbon emissions.

16 Schools are governed by local school boards and play a prominent role in the life of the community. School construction and renovation generates extensive community dialogue. When schools adopt energy efficiency or renewable energy programs, they do more than save energy: they also stimulate community-wide discussion about these issues. (Healthy Schools Campaign)

17 Green Cleaning Green Cleaning simply means cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. A Green Cleaning program goes beyond chemical and equipment choices. It includes policies, procedures, training and shared responsibility efforts that minimize the impact of cleaning materials on the health of building occupants and protect the environment as a whole. (Healthy Schools Campaign)

18 Common Approaches to Achieveing Green Schools: Eliminating toxic products; stop bus idling; improve indoor air quality; reduce dampness and stop mold growth in the school. implementing integrated pest management (IPM) to reduce or eliminate pesticides (Healthy Schools Network, Inc.)

19 Resources for Healthy Schools American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Healthy Schools Campaign Clean School Bus USA Healthy Schools Network, Inc. Respiratory Health Association of Metropolitan Chicago AMC_School_Bus_Idling_Fact_Sheet.pdf

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