A Healthy School For Every Child

Eliminating Hazards in Schools and Child Care Facilities

17th Annual National Healthy Schools Day April 2
By: Healthy Schools Network, Inc.
WASHINGTON & ALBANY, N.Y. - April 1, 2019 - PRLog -- Reaching the goal of "A healthy school for every child", the theme of the 17th annual National Healthy Schools Day, has never been more important. And it could be getting closer. For the first time, the President and US EPA are proposing to establish a cross-media $50 Million Healthy Schools Program to annually support information and training grants to states, tribes, schools, and nonprofits, and Congress is considering a bill to authorize a $100 Billion federal investment over ten years to rebuild public school infrastructure.

Decades of studies show that children, especially the youngest and those with pre-existing health or learning issues, are adversely impacted by decayed learning environments, in school and in childcare. Federal studies have also shown that fewer schools today than ten years ago are proactively managing Indoor Air Quality, Safer Pest Control, and Hazardous Materials. Only nine states require schools to test at the tap for lead, and no states require identifying or removing highly toxic PCBs from school caulk or light ballasts. There can still be childcare sites polluted by mercury residues. Lead, PCBS, and mercury are all harmful to thinking.

With some 65 million children in schools and in childcare facilities across the country -- the places where they spend the most time when not at home -- the nation needs a long-term investment and strategic plan to prevent and or address health threats in learning environments, and to better protect children from risks and exposures where they learn and play.

Said Chip Halverson, ND, Board President of Healthy Schools Network, " We are honored this year that so many wonderful organizations and individuals across the country are collaborating to make this Day possible and to work to help improve our children's learning places. Eliminating lead, reducing chemicals in classrooms, and using safer cleaning and pest control methods need to be standard practices in all schools. Thank you to our partners."

More Than Rats and Roaches

The proposed EPA grant program could help by expanding education and training on topics of buildings and grounds operations, and children's health, focusing on the hidden indoor management issues often ignored. These include preventing mold infestations and dampness; ridding classrooms of asthma triggers like plug-ins, animals and dusts; blocking pests; siting facilities away from flood zones and industrial hazards; and becoming more resilient to super-storms and threats of violence while providing calming, healthful learning environments.

Common problems in the news:

·         Las Vegas (NV) was forced by health complaints and inspections to close a middle school's food service due to an abundance of rats and roaches.

·         The Anchorage (AK) area was hit with a major earthquake on a school morning last winter. Moving vertical cracks have opened up the walls of one school.

·         Two schools in Indiana were closed for testing to determine the presence and the source of toxic TCE gas (trichloroethylene: short term effects include dizziness, sleepiness, headaches; long term, TCE can affect the nervous system, liver, respiratory system, kidneys, blood, immune system, heart, and skin).

·         Spring flooding is an annual event in many parts of the country, but this winters' severe snows have led to major run-offs, inundating communities to new high water marks.

·         Post Super Storm Sandy, when 170 schools were in or adjacent to the salt water storm surge in metro New York City, New York's education department simply told schools they could re-open if they had lights and communications; no safety inspections were required.

New Taps Spew Leaded Water

         "Got Lead?", asks Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, the national nonprofit that has sponsored National Healthy Schools Day since 2002. "Everyone has lead: old buildings have lead in paint and water, and new buildings in water systems. Since you can't taste or smell lead, you have to test at the tap." New York State's 4,600 public schools have spent about $40M to test at the tap to comply with a 2016 state law, and more than another $28M remediating with new fixtures and filters. In 2017, Congress authorized EPA to allocate a paltry $20M for testing at the tap nationally; in 2018 EPA released its updated voluntary guidance for schools and childcares.

Washington, DC, Flint and Detroit (MI), Charlotte-Mecklenburg (NC), Portland (OR), Chicago (IL), Montgomery County (MD) and more are dealing with lead at the tap. Unfortunately, states and schools are also finding that new taps can still spew as much as 100 parts per billion (ppb) lead, when the safe level for children is zero. Philadelphia (PA) schools are dealing with lead at the tap and implementing a new lead paint stabilization program.

Selected Statements of Support listed in the full press release
US EPA, CDC-National Center for Environmental Health, American Public Health Association, Learning Disabilities Association of America and many affiliates, Association of School Business Officials, AASA - The Superintendents Association, Collaborative for High Performance Schools, Green Seal, Asthma and Allergy Foundation, and dozens more NGOs.

Featured Activities listed in the full press release
Building tours, a Facebook Live Chat, webinars, the launches of new web resources for schools by CHPS and CEHI in Texas, and extensive resources listed by the Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Units-National Office.

See the full 2019 NHSDay press release for statements of support and links to featured activities.

Healthy Schools Network is a national not for profit founded in 1995. It has sponsored National Healthy Schools Day annually since 2002. It has also received national awards for advancing policies and practices for healthful learning environments for children and staff.

Claire Barnett
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Tags:Children, Learning
Industry:Education, Environment, Health
Location:Washington - District of Columbia - United States
Albany - New York - United States
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