As summer heats up and the classrooms empty, it’s a good time to consider the overall health of your school environment. Here’s a list of the top offenders:
8 Concerns for a Healthy School
1. Heating, cooling and ventilation. The quality of indoor air affects the health, learning and productivity of students. In some schools the fresh air supply has been closed off. In many others the heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems (HVAC) are not properly cleaned, leaving dirty or mouldy filters to release allergens into the classroom.
2. Pest controls. Most schools use toxic chemicals to keep pests out of schools. In a survey in New York state, it was found that 87% of the schools used pesticides, all of which “contained substances which may cause immediate or long-term health problems.”
3. Cleaning products. Most products used to clean schools are corrosive and contain toxic irritants such as ammonia, ethanol or chlorine bleach. Disinfectants may contain naptha, cresol, lye and formaldehyde. Waxes and floor strippers contain toxic chemicals that can linger for days inside a schoolroom.
4. Chemicals. Photocopiers, dry-erase markers, wall paint, and science lab chemicals are among the polluting factors in schools, leaving noxious fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the classroom and supply room air.
5. Fragrances. According to the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration (FDA), fragrances cause 30% of all allergic reactions. When exposed to perfume, more than 70% of asthmatics develop respiratory symptoms. Tests have confirmed that perfume often shuts down learning capacity.
6. Site selection. A school building close to a highway will have a sizeable percentage of the exhaust-related pollution entering its grounds.
7. Lighting. Inadequate daytime light exposure can cause lethargy. Daylight, with all its subtle changes of sunlight throughout the day, is the best base for providing healthy lighting in a classroom.
8. Art supplies. Toxic art materials such as paints, clays, adhesives, and markers can impact the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin contact.
While this list can seem overwhelming, especially when we consider the consequences on the health of our children and teachers, there are so many green alternatives and practices that can be brought to our schools’ attention. Even one step towards a healthier school will make a big difference.
Information and stats from www.healthyschools.com