National Healthy Schools Day Helps Clear the Air - And You Can, Too!
National Healthy Schools Day is Tuesday, April 24th - today! Take action at your school to ensure your children are safe and healthy.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson recognizes the importance of reducing pollution in school environments: "As the head of the EPA, and as a parent, I know how important it is that we have clean air, healthy water and a safe environment in the places where we send our children every day. Healthy schools give students and educators what they need to maximize learning and minimize risks like asthma and other respiratory illnesses, ensuring that no child is burdened by pollution in or around their school."
A wide array of federal officials and national and state organizations representing over 12 million Americans has endorsed National Healthy Schools Day, including U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, U. S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, the American Association of School Administrators, the Association of School Business Officials, the American Federation of Teachers, the National Association of School Nurses, the National Association of State Boards of Education, the National Education Association, the National Parent Teacher Association and the National School Boards Association, among others.
The federal government is kicking off initiatives to address school environments. U.S. EPA has established voluntary school siting and indoor environments guidelines and grants for states. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has initiated a Green Ribbon Schools award to recognize schools that save energy, have healthy facilities, and teach environmental literacy - and announced the 78 winners yesterday!. President Obama has proposed $25 billion to modernize 35,000 public schools, which would provide much-needed funds to, among other purposes, eliminate environmental hazards in schools.
Some schools are now finding that they can reduce overall costs by up to 30 percent by switching to green cleaners, when savings on worker health are counted. Eleven states now promote or require green cleaning in schools, including New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, and Maine; over a dozen states have regulations for safer pest control, and more have requirements to have Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Management Plans.
National Healthy Schools Day recommends these simple low-cost or free steps to improve indoor air at school:
- Use certified green cleaning products to reduce or eliminate perfumes and toxic chemicals. Fully 25 percent of chemicals in the cleaning products used in schools are toxic and contribute to poor indoor air quality, smog, cancer, asthma, and other diseases.
- Avoid pesticides and promote Integrated Pest Management instead.
- Phase out room deodorizers.
- Ensure that windows open easily to let fresh air in regularly and/or that ventilation systems are on and working.
- Clean up classroom clutter, which creates a haven for dust and germs.
Use these resources for green cleaning and maintaining healthy indoor air quality in schools. Ask your Principal today what she/he is doing to ensure your school is safe:
- Green Schools Initiative’s Green Cleaning Toolkit
- U.S. EPA’s Tools for Schools Program
- Healthy Schools Network "Must Read Science," Healthy Indoor Air Checklist, and Model Proclamation