Toxins in Drinking Water and Air at CA Schools
We learned this week from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) and the Associated Press that California schools and their students are facing dual toxic issues: The toxin acrolein has been found in the air surrounding 4 California schools, and unsafe levels of lead, pesticides and dozens of other toxins have been found in the drinking water at thousands of schools in all 50 states.
An engineer quoted in the AP article responded with outrage, as any concerned parent might: ''If a landlord doesn't tell a tenant about lead paint in an apartment, he can go to jail. But we have no system to make people follow the rules to keep school children safe?'' Senator Barbara Boxer, Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works said, "There is just no excuse for this. Period," and called for hearings to address the issue.
CHEJ informed us that the Environmental Protection Agency announced preliminary results this month showing that acrolein has been found in high concentrations -- 100 times higher than is considered safe for long-term exposure -- in the air outside public schools, four of which are in California. Breathing acrolein can damage the lungs and exacerbate asthma; there is
inadequate research on the long-term adverse health impacts of acrolein exposure. Acrolein enters the air primarily when things burn, from pesticides, and when formed in the air from other chemicals breaking down; it's often found in smog. Sources include fires; auto, truck, boat, and plane exhaust; industrial boilers, cigarette smoke, and smoke from cooking animal fats.
The California schools affected are:
Soto Street Elementary School Los Angeles, CA
Stevens Creek Elementary School Cupertino, CA
Felton Elementary School Lennox, CA
Santa Anita Christian Academy, El Monte, CA
How to Respond:
On October 14th, the Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ) is hosting a National Safe School Siting Day of Action, a time to demand safe school sites for our nation’s kids! CHEJ is also releasing the Safe School Siting Toolkit. The toolkit provides the tools necessary for communities to take matters into their own hands and pass strong safe school siting policies.
CHEJ has made participating in the National Safe School Siting Day of Action easy:
1. Download their Principles for Safe School Siting Petition, Sign it, and Circulate it in your neighborhood and/or school community.
2. Mail your petition and cover letter to your state's governor .
Toxins in School Drinking Water
"The AP analysis has 'clearly identified the tip of an iceberg,' said Gina Solomon, a San Francisco physician who serves on an EPA drinking water advisory board. ''This tells me there is a widespread problem that needs to be fixed because there are ongoing water quality problems in small and large utilities, as well.'"
Read the rest of the AP story:
AP IMPACT: School Drinking Water Contains Toxins
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published: September 25, 2009