As a teacher in Mississippi, I suffered permanent damage to my eyes, respiratory system and nervous system when the Long Beach School Board allowed a contractor to apply a spray-on foam roof during the school day. A thousand children and personnel were exposed to some of the most toxic chemicals manufactured, including toluene diisocyanate, which causes asthma. Two dozen children and teachers were also injured.
My injury was not an isolated incident. The EPA reports that 50% of the nation's public and private schools have problems linked to poor indoor air quality (IAQ) that endanger the health of children and personnel, and that "students are at greater risk because of the hours spent in school facilities and because children are especially susceptible to pollutants.”
The CDC reports that asthma, caused and exasperated by environmental pollutants, has increased at an alarming rate, with the highest rates in the child and adolescent population.
According the the The EPA “Scientific evidence has long demonstrated an association between poor IAQ and respiratory health effects including asthma.”
Every month, dozens of schoolchildren and personnel nationwide report exposure to and injuries from air contaminates and toxins inside schools*, including
Change is on the way. After hearing my story, and at my request, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour proclaimed April 26 through May 2, 2010 as “Healthy Schools Week”, in honor of National Healthy Schools Day (NHSD) on April 26, 2010. NHSD is sponsored by Healthy Schools Network in collaboration with the US EPA and the Council of Educational Facility Planners International, to celebrate and promote healthy and green school environment.
Governor Barbour continued his support for healthy schools by signing the “childhood asthma management and prevention bill into law that includes provisions requiring all public school districts to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program and prohibiting the use of hazardous substances such as cleaning products and pesticides.”
Mississippi will need to be vigilant in upholding the law and so will the public. With your help, and the work of parents, personnel, and districts statewide, we can all improve the environmental quality of Alabama schools and schools nationwide to ensure that every child and school employee in the state has a healthy school.
Please plan an event to celebrate National Healthy Schools Day on Monday April 26. Call or contact your school board and superintendents to encourage them to register and participate in events on April 26 to protect the health of our children. <http://www.nationalhealthyschoolsday.org/activity.html#PlanActivity"
Author of Toxic Justice: A True Story <https://sites.google.com/site/nancyswan/toxic-justice-a-true-story>