The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a new booklet entitled Sensible Guide to Healthier School Renovations that will help schools around the country keep school environments healthy while cleaning up contaminants such as asbestos, mold, mercury, lead, and radon that are associated with renovations.
The guide was announced by EPA Regional Administrator Jared Blumenfeld during the Children's Environmental Health Symposium in San Diego, CA.
'Our children are more sensitive than adults to environmental contaminants because their respiratory systems are not fully developed, and they are more active,' said Jared Blumenfeld. 'It is critical for schools to understand potential hazards when undertaking renovation projects.'
Dr. Ruth Etzel, EPA's Director of the Office of Children's Health Protection said children spend many hours each week in school, and healthy school environments optimize children's learning potential.
'School renovations, if done incorrectly, have the potential to present environmental health risks to children. This guide provides an overview of potential hazards that schools face during renovations — it provides best management practices to avoid exposure and protect children's health,' Etzel said.
The guide also reviews the risks, regulations and resources available for schools to use during school renovations and includes strategies for reducing exposure to environmental contaminants. The guide includes a robust reference section with links to more in-depth guidance. EPA created this guide in response to interest from parents, schools and public health advocates for a one-stop, easy to understand document that outlined key environmental health considerations when renovating schools.
School renovations have the potential to increase children's exposure to harmful contaminants which can lead to serious health risks. Addressing the unique challenges and opportunities of school renovations can help schools save money and support student performance.
Recent surveys report that 53 percent of public schools need to spend money on repairs, renovations, and modernization — at an estimated cost of $197 billion. Understanding the suite of risks in a renovation at the beginning of the project can help schools avoid expensive, time-consuming cleanup and remediation — and improve the health and academic success of children in schools nationwide.
The Children's Environmental Health Symposium was held on January 27 and 28 in San Diego, Calif., and focused on environmental health issues in the border region, how prenatal and childhood exposures can impact children's health and development, and what participants can do to address or mitigate children's environmental health risks.
The guide is available online at www.epa.gov/schools/sensible-guide-healthier-school-renovations