Sign-On: Support EPA's Healthy Schools Initiative
US Senator Jack Reed, Chairman, and US Senator Lisa Murkowski, Ranking Member are urging their colleagues to support US EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection’s Healthy Schools Initiative, which is designed to fulfill EPA’s congressional mandate to assist state agencies in improving children’s environmental health and the ability to learn and restore US EPA’s highly effective Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program to FY 10 enacted levels.
The letter reads:
As you consider the US EPA FY 2013 Appropriations budget, we urge you to:
1- support US EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection’s Healthy Schools Initiative within the Office’s $10.9 million proposed budget. The Schools Initiative is designed to fulfill EPA’s congressional mandate to assist state agencies in improving children’s environmental health and the ability to learn; and,
2- restore US EPA’s highly effective Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program to FY 10 enacted levels by adding $2m to EPA’s Reducing Risks from Indoor Air FY 13 proposed budget and fully funding its regional staff for the Healthy Schools Initiative.
There is no substitute for hard-won experience in how to prevent or address indoor environmental problems common to schools. The voluntary programs are low-cost and will assist states, districts, and local communities with the informational resources they need to understand and to prevent school indoor environmental problems from impacting the nation’s 56 million school age children who are enrolled in 130,000 school buildings.
For decades, the majority of our nation’s schools have been poorly designed and built, or left to decay, while the children compelled to attend them have endured conditions the American Society of Civil Engineers terms worse than prisons. Multiple federal and state studies and reports have documented that K-12 schools present unacceptable environmental threats to occupants, and that children are more vulnerable to hazards than the adults around them but cannot identify them or remove themselves from harm’s way.
Healthy indoor environments in schools are well-studied: in 2006 the National Research Council, citing a robust scientific literature, recommended that all schools should be dry, clean, quiet, free of dust and particulates, have well maintained building systems, and good indoor air. In 2011 the Institute of Medicine reported that indoor environments are already damaging health and learning and recommended preventing exposures. Other studies: the New York State Health Department found schools “filled with asthma triggers” (2008), and later found pediatric asthma hospitalizations can rise up to 300% on returns to school during the academic year (2011). Last year, the National Association of School Nurses reported that 40% of its members knew of children adversely impacted by poor environments in schools, but only 6% indicated that any agency assisted.
When the nation is committed to raising academic performance, to honoring each child’s potential, to improving neighborhoods, and to restoring American competitiveness, we have a moral obligation to protect all children and enhance their ability to stay healthy in school and learn.
We urge you to fund EPA/OCHP Healthy Schools Initiative as requested and to restore EPA’s Air Quality/Indoor Environments Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program resources to its FY 10 levels.
Ready to take action? Sign on!