School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Children spend 90% of their time indoors and much of that time is spent in school. Unhealthy school environments can affect children’s health, attendance, concentration, and performance, as well as lead to expensive, time-consuming cleanup and remediation activities. To foster children’s health and academic achievement, healthy school environments should be addressed and integrated within the education system.
EPA Healthy School Environment Resources: Gateway to on-line resources to help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents, teachers and staff address environmental health issues in schools. Some of the most helpful sites are listed below.
- Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Action Kit:This kit shows schools how to carry out a practical plan to improve indoor air problems at little or no cost using straightforward activities and in-house staff. The kit provides best practices, industry guidelines, sample polices and a sample IAQ management plan.
- The Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool: (HealthySEATv2) is a fully customizable and easy to use software program designed to help school districts evaluate and manage ALL of their environmental, safety and health issues
- EPA Safe Chemical Management in Schools: This web-based tool kit helps schools start chemical management programs that will improve their chemical management practices by:
- Removing inappropriate, outdated, unknown and unnecessary chemicals from schools;
- Preventing future chemical mismanagement issues in schools through training, curriculum and policy change, and long-term management solutions; and
- Raising awareness of chemical issues in schools and promoting sustainable solutions.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Asthma is the leading cause of school absenteeism due to a chronic condition, accounting for nearly 13 million missed school days per year.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies found that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times, and sometimes more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. These levels of pollutants are of particular concern because it is estimated that most people spend up to 90 percent of their time indoors.
- The developing bodies of children might be more susceptible to environmental exposures than those of adults. Children breathe more air, eat more food and drink more liquid in proportion to their body weight than adults. Therefore, air quality in schools is of particular concern. Proper maintenance of indoor air is more than a “quality” issue; it encompasses safety and stewardship of your investment in students, staff and facilities.
- Returning to 1969 levels of walking and bicycling to school would save 3.2 billion vehicle miles, 1.5 million tons of carbon dioxide and 89,000 tons of other pollutants—equal to keeping more than 250,000
cars off the road for a year.
There are many additional opportunities in a school that can be pursued to make it a greener and healthier environment.