I thought I’d do a piece on school environmental health now that school’s back in session. About 1 million Arizona kids and 100,000 adults spend a big chunk of their day in Arizona’s public, private and charter schools. Because schools can often be crowded environments, it’s important operate them in a way that maximizes a healthy environment. A few years ago the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed a healthy school environments web site and computer tool designed to provide one-stop access for administrators get the tools they need. It’s simple to get started by Downloading the HealthySEAT Software program.
EPA’s software tool helps school districts evaluate and manage their school facilities for key environmental, safety and health issues. The Healthy Seat Assessment Tool is designed to be customized and used by district-level staff to conduct completely voluntary self-assessments of their school facilities and to track and manage information on environmental conditions school by school. Districts and others can download the program for free from the EPA web site.
I’ll give a couple of simple examples. By changing or modifying school bus idling policies, a school can significantly improve the outdoor air environment before and after school with little or no cost; that same action can reduce asthma triggers for sensitive kids before and after school. By mowing grass on Friday afternoons (after the kids have left), a school can cut back on biological asthma triggers. By putting weather stripping under classroom doors, schools can inexpensively eliminate rodent infestations and get rid of dander triggers for allergies and asthma. Many of the most effective tools are also the least expensive.