As important as creative and talented teachers certainly are, it is also important to provide a healthy environment for learning to all children and their teachers and administrators.
A typical child spends about 1300 hours in school buildings each year and staff spends even longer. Schools are, on average, about 42 years old, which means they were probably built before the materials we know to be toxic today were still being commonly used.
Children have a higher respiratory rate than adults and so are in more danger from contaminants like:
- VOC’s from building materials and cleaning products
- Particles and allergens
- Bacteria and other biological contaminants
- Asbestos dust
- Lead dust
- Outdoor air pollutants which cannot escape once they get inside
What can we do to improve the indoor air in our school buildings?
- Open the windows!
- Use unscented or low VOC cleaning products–or better yet soap and water!
- Paint with no or low-VOC paint
- Provide water-based, unscented markers
- Ban air fresheners
- Don’t use scented personal care products (being the mother of a 5th grader, however, encouraging the use of unscented deodorant is understandable!)
- Repairing any dampness or leaks immediately to inhibit the growth of mold
I read a story this morning about a school in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn (where I used to live) where the parents are protesting an asbestos abatement project because they are performing the abatement in the evenings, but during the school year. The parents want them to wait until summer. They have very real concerns about asbestos fibers being released into the school and inhaled by students during the day, even thought the work is being done at night.
I’m glad to hear that people are more aware of asbestos and other contaminants in the air that their children breathe and encourage the New York City school system to 1) be transparent about what they are doing and how they are keeping the children safe; and 2) to make sure that they are indeed safe before doing anything that might make the indoor environment for these children worse than it already is.
Remember, there is no safe level of exposure to asbestos.
Happy Healthy Schools Day and if you would like more information about 7th Grade English Teacher Rebecca Mieliwocki from Luther Burbank Middle School, click HERE!
Wendy Stackhouse is the Online Community Manager for AirTek Indoor Air Solutions and our affiliate Alliance Environmental Group. We welcome your comments! For more news and tips or to ask questions of our experts, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter! For updates on environmental services like mold remediation, lead removal and pest control including bed bugs, Like us at Alliance Environmental on Facebook or follow Alliance on Twitter!