Initiatives

Healthy Schools

Children are more susceptible to environmental threats than adults. With equal exposure, children’s bodies become more heavily concentrated than that of adults due to higher respiratory rates and smaller body sizes. And where do young, developing people spend a large portion of their school-age years? That’s right: at childcare and school. That is why Improving Kids’ Environment works to make school and childcare facilities as healthy as possible. Download our Healthy Schools Checklist.

Asthma Management in Schools

Improve Asthma Management at Your School can help in two ways.

First, asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism. In 2008, asthma accounted for an estimated 14.4 million lost days of school among children nationally. Also when a student’s asthma is not under control, it negatively impacts academic performance and limits participation in school activities and sports. Schools with an effective and systematic approach to asthma management have the potential to enable students with asthma to gain and keep control of their disease, resulting in a healthier student body. When asthma is under control, students are ready and able to learn and less likely to miss school. Studies have also shown an increase in academic performance and test scores.

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Green Cleaning

Enacting a green cleaning program involves using environmentally safe products and procedures to effectively clean in a way that protects health without harming the environment.

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Green Purchasing and Healthy Materials Selection

Going green and healthy at your school requires access to green and healthy products and services.

Fortunately third party groups have identified these products and in some cases placed them in searchable databases and included them in cooperative purchasing programs. Click on the links below to learn about green and healthy products and where to find them.

Going Green Program, Green Purchasing Cooperative
Healthy Products for Healthy Schools Toolkit
GREENGUARD Certification Database of Low Chemical Emission and Sustainable Products
Arts and Creative Material Institute (ACMI) labels for art supplies (AP – nontoxic, CL – Caution)
EPA: Identify Greener Products and Services
Green Schools Initiative: Buying Guide

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Indoor Air Quality in Schools

According to U.S. EPA, 20 percent of the U.S. population spend their days in elementary and secondary schools.

Studies show that one-half of our nation’s 115,000 schools have problems linked to indoor air quality. Students are at greater risk because of the hours spent in school facilities and because children are especially susceptible to pollutants.

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School Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, involves pest prevention and proactive pest management.

By keeping pests out and removing sources of food, water and shelter, fewer pests are encountered and pesticides are used only as a last resort.

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Lead in Schools

With the high toxicity of lead to children, it is important for schools to find and remove any lead from their buildings.

This means checking paint in buildings or parts of buildings built before 1978 and removing lead-bearing parts from schools’ drinking water systems and service lines. Because this work will take time, schools can install filters certified to remove lead at every tap used for drinking or cooking and begin regular testing of all water outlets to ensure that the remediation steps being taken are effective. Visits the sites below for guidance for schools who want to evaluate their buildings and remedy any hazards found.

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Pesticides in Schools

Pesticide exposures can cause problems to children’s health in schools.

Both pests and pesticides have been associated with asthma symptoms in children. Schools may reduce children’s absences from school by reducing pests and pesticides. Join us to create a safe, clean and healthy learning environment for our students.

Learn how some schools are using integrated pest management to prevent pests in schools and reduce children’s exposure to pesticides.

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Radon

Radon is a odorless, colorless, tasteless naturally occurring gas that is found in the soil. It is also mildly radioactive making it a hazard for humans.

Radon finds it way into homes and other structures through openings in the foundation or flooring. If the gas cannot exit the structure, it builds up and then the occupants of the structure are exposed. Long term exposure to radon can cause lung cancer.

Almost one in five schools surveyed had at least one ground-contact room with a radon level at or above the EPA’s action level of 4pCI/L using short term measuring devices. This would indicate that nationwide over 73,000 classrooms have a potential radon problem. The EPA has recommended testing for radon in all schools in the US however most states do not require it. With radon being the second leading cause of lung cancer, testing and subsequently mitigating radon becomes an important task for schools to undertake. Follow the links below to learn about testing for radon and recommended mitigation methods. The source of radon beneath a school does not go away. So whatever fix is chosen for a school it must last the life of the building.

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Smart Schools Don’t Idle

Studies have linked high pollution levels at schools to increased absence and lower academic performance.

Even with the high price of gasoline, many people do not understand that idling vehicles can create air pollution “hot spots” that can bring on an asthma attack and even make healthy children and adults feel poorly (headaches, itchy eyes, sore throats). On school grounds, idling vehicles include school buses, parents waiting to pick up or drop off children from school or other activities, and delivery vehicles. Often, the pickup/dropoff areas are located near fresh air intakes, so the vehicle exhaust is drawn right into classroom areas. Improving air quality in and around the school buildings will make students and teachers feel better.

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Health and Safety

Children spend most of their waking hours in school, which means that school nurses and teachers are on the front lines in the battle to keep kids healthy.

In order to help school nurses and teachers combat misinformation about children’s safety and health, the team at RNtoBSN has created an online guide that includes more than 15 pages of health and safety illustrations and interactive charts, treatment information for ailments from allergies to concussions, strategies for keeping children healthy, basic personal hygiene information.

Go to A School Nurse’s Guide to Kids’ Health and Safety

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