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Childrens' Environmental Protection Alliance (CEPA)

posted Oct 9, 2010, 2:41 PM by Nancy Swan   [ updated Oct 24, 2010, 1:07 PM by Thomas Swan ]
As soon as possible (and when I can afford the cost and time), I will incorporate and make Childrens' Environmental Protection Alliance (CEPA) a non-profit information, education, news, and activist organization.   For some time, Toxic has been expanding beyond its capacity and is not reaching far enough to help those who need a mentor(s) in dealing with toxic exposures at schools and childrens' environmental exposures and working for change.

  1. What should you do if your child came home and told you that his eyes and throat burned from something sprayed at school?
  2. What if your child said that everyday by the end of  her English class, she got a headache?
  3. What if your child came home from vacation at the Gulf of Mexico with flu like symptoms.  He later reveals that he and his friends threw the tar balls at each other,  the ones they found in the water and on the beach from the BP oil spill?

If you answered questions one and two with, "call the school," you may need to rethink your plan.  School officials can and do cover up school injuries involving minors.

If you answered, "Call the health department," or some other health or environment agency, you plan reached a dead-end.  No federal, state, nor local agency has oversight nor regulation over indoor environmental conditions in U.S. Schools.   That means that you cannot file complaints, nor is there any agency  authorized to investigate  injuries or dangerous conditions nor make reports on a toxic exposure incident.(Healthy Schools Network , Who's in Charge)  

On question three, if you are assured that a known hazardous substance was found to be at a safe level, "safe" levels of chemicals and products are determined using the condition and weight of a grown man.  The EPA has determined that children are more susceptible to injury from toxic and hazardous substances than adults.   There are no government designations for "safe" levels of toxic and hazardous substance for children.

If you believed media reports that  the school is now safe and to assume the danger is over, you just put your child at greater risk.

There are five things a parent needs to do to protect their child from toxic exposure and injury at school. Each of the following will be discussed in greater length in following blog posts.  Check your state listings for health department regulations and advisories for schools as well as those of the school district.  I will let you know when CEPA has its own website, in the meantime:  
  • Read all parent handouts and keep them in a file.
  • Know and become a part of your District School Board decisions.  
  • If your child has special needs or medical problems, notify the school district official in charge, school nurse, your principal, and the child's teacher(s).
  • Learn about cleaning products and pesticides used at your school and investigate which are safe to use around children.
  • Do an environmental assessment walk-through of your child's school and classroom.
If your child suffered a toxic or hazardous substance exposure at school, there are five things you need to do immediately.  I will list these in the next CEPA blog entry.  

If your child was injured by a toxic or hazardous substance at school, what you will need to do immediately, and over the long-term, gets more complicated.  In the meantime, you can contact me at

Who insures safe learning conditions at your school?  The answer is, in most cases in the U.S.,  the district school board and state departments of education.  If there is a toxic incident at your school possibly involving injuries or damage, the school attorney has already been retained to protect school officials from lawsuits from you, the parents or guardians of the injured and exposed.  And, you can bet, by the time the news reaches you, school officials have already "lawyered-up" and will say nothing without the advice of their attorneys. 

You can always wait, hoping the media will do a story about the toxic incident at the school.   Almost all toxic school news stories report the incident and sometimes tell the number of  injuries.   Unfortunately, few if any news account will inform the parents, the community and the exposed,  the information they really need, including but not limited to, the name of the products, product components and chemicals.  

Unfortunately, getting that information, what your child was exposed to, is more painful than a root canal and harder than finding hen's teeth.   CEPA hopes to make parents more informed and prepared and to hold our federal, state, and local officials accountable for the safety of school children and personnel.

I'm doing for you what I wish had been done for me when I was injured by highly toxic roofing chemicals applied at the school where I was teaching.  Read the introduction, Prologue and Chapter One of Toxic Justice.

Children are exposed to toxins even before they are born.  Disadvantaged children are doomed to more exposure because of where they live, lifestyle and customs, and lack of information and education. 


  • 2010/10/04 Gold rush brings wealth but kills 400 children in Nigeria, (The Independent)  "Aid agencies said in June that at least six villages in Zamfara state had been affected and around 170 children, mostly under five, killed. More contaminated communities have been discovered since then and the infant death toll has more than doubled."