In its 16th year now, National Healthy Schools Day seeks to inform the public of health risks that can affect children in educational and child care settings
April 3, 2018, Clearwater FL — The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that 50% of all schools have problems with indoor air quality (IAQ). IAQ issues can be comprised of a complex mix of sources including aging facility infrastructure, deferred maintenance, fouled HVAC systems, dirty ducts, and the use of toxic products for cleaning, among other contributing factors. Every year since 2002, National Healthy Schools Day mission is to inform the administrators and public on these vital issues in an effort to bring awareness and change to the maintenance and safety of educational institutions across the country. The EPA urges schools to “Use the day to take the necessary steps to effectively manage the indoor air quality in your schools, ensuring you are providing your students and staff with a healthy learning environment.”
The focus of National Healthy Schools Day 2018is lead. According to the EPA, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the American Academy of Pediatrics there is no safe level of lead for any child. Like many other indoor environmental hazards common to schools, lead has long been ignored. However, more schools and child care facilities are becoming more proactive on lead, especially in drinking water. But the fact remains that lead is ubiquitous throughout an educational environment such as in building and instructional materials, as well as other products and even the soil on the property’s grounds.
“It is time to put children first and end lead and other risks to all children in school and child care,” said Claire Barnett, Executive Director of Healthy Schools Network, the national not-for-profit that co-founded and hosts Healthy Schools Day. She added, “For the 16th annual Day, we thank all the education and health leaders and staff in the states who have recognized the high cost of lead and other toxics to the future of children and are taking action to find and to reduce risks in school and child care settings.”
The good news is more and more people are becoming aware of the importance of optimal IAQ in the learning environment. This year a record number of 59 NGOs nationwide are engaged in the event.
Who is most affected?
Across the U.S. over 55 million children and 7 million adults occupy 130,000 public and private schools. Add to that another 11 million children in child care facilities. All totaled, over 1/5 of the U.S. population is in one of these institutions on a daily basis. Today there are fewer public schools than in year’s past, but more children in them and with less federal and state funding. Schools in disadvantaged communities are often in the worst condition from an architectural and infrastructure standpoint. This can likely correlate to these facilities having the most lead in their buildings’ paint and water systems.
What can be done to improve IAQ?
The first step to finding and fixing IAQ issues is to have a proactive administrative and facilities team willing to invest in the building health of their education institutions. This means having their facilities regularly tested, not just for lead but for the myriad of factors that can deteriorate the health of the indoor environment.
“One of our main focuses has been creating healthy learning environments so students can achieve higher academic learning in healthy buildings,” says Alan Wozniak, President of Pure Air Control Services, Inc., “Our Building Sciences team is constantly working with both k-12 and higher education institutions to proactively test and report on the IAQ in their facilities. If issues are found, the detailed reports provided are integral in the remediation process to get the building back to an optimal state of operations and a healthy learning environment.”
IAQ testing can encompass the entire building envelope or concentrate on a specific area on interest in a forensic level investigation of an issue. In the case of lead, water, surface and air samples can be taken from the indoor environment and sent to a laboratory for in-depth analysis. The lab can then qualify and quantify what is in the samples to help determine the severity of the issue in the specific locations where the samples were collected. Of course if concentrations are found and report the proper corrective remediation actions must be taken.
IAQ testing can also be conducted for other issues that can affect the health of a building and its occupants. Things like bacteria, dust mites, fungi (mold) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can all proliferate in the indoor environment. They often act as allergy and asthma triggers which can affect student performance and attendance. Dust and debris built up inside of the HVAC system not only contributes to these allergen triggers, but also can decrease the performance of the equipment which can lead higher humidity and CO2 levels within a building. Not to mention higher energy costs.
National Healthy Schools Day is an important advocacy event that helps bring awareness to the importance of good IAQ for educational institutions throughout the U.S. With this in mind, more schools should be encouraged to take a proactive approach to their indoor environment to ensure healthy facilities for their students and staff all year long.
TAMPA (FOX 13) – A day at the office could be making some people sick. And when businesses have a problem, many call Francisco Aguirre’s company PureAir Control Services in Clearwater to fix it.
Think of them as sick building sleuths.
“‘Sick building syndrome’ is a term used to describe a combination of non-specific ailments that are temporarily associated with the workplace,” Francisco said. “I have seen buildings that are brand new, and they have not even been finished for occupancy and they are already experiencing indoor air quality problems.”
Discomfort can be caused by bacteria, fungi, dust, and believe it or not, lights.
“Lights can also give you headaches, watery eyes and things like that,” Aguirre explained.
But there could be something more to some people’s symptoms.
Dr. Richard Lockey, an indoor air quality expert and director of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida, believes there are other contributing factors.
“We have found that buildings are much cleaner in which people work than their own homes,” Lockey told us. “Some homes are so filthy that we can’t believe it when we go in and test what’s in the home. Yet people don’t complain about their homes, they complain about the building. So there’s a disconnect there.”
According to the World Health Organization, a third of all buildings have air quality concerns. But Dr. Lockey has a word of caution.
“It’s important for physicians and other healthcare professionals to properly evaluate these patients so you don’t inappropriately accuse a builder or owner of a building of something that doesn’t exist,” he said.
In the end, whatever you think is making you sick at work could be real or imagined, but both experts agree that poor air filtration in the workplace and at home can lead to some allergy-like symptoms.
Be sure to replace filters regularly, and make sure all ventilation systems are working properly.
Article Source: http://www.fox13news.com/news/local-news/lights-mold-cleaners-can-cause-sick-building-syndrome
Gov. Tom Wolf proposed last week that every Pennsylvania child under age 2 be tested for lead poisoning. As LNP reported, the governor called on the state Department of Health to work with the General Assembly and community partners to draft legislation to require universal testing statewide. Pennsylvania has one of the highest rates of child lead poisoning in the country.
This is still an issue. It shouldn’t be but it is. It’s hard to believe that almost 40 years after lead paint was banned from use in housing, we’re still dealing with cases of children exposed to lead. But we are.
And unless Pennsylvania wants to hold the title of America’s Lead Poisoning Leader, we need to do something about it. The sooner the better.
In Lancaster County, at least 11 percent of children tested were found to have elevated lead levels in their system, LNP’s Susan Baldrige reported last week. The children whose levels were elevated were found to have 5 or more micrograms of lead in their system, ranking the county one of the worst in the state and among the worst in the country — worse even than Flint, Michigan, where children were poisoned by lead in drinking water. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a level of 5 or more micrograms of lead per deciliter of blood in young children is considered extremely serious.
Lead paint is common in pre-1978 buildings, which are prevalent in Lancaster. Sources of lead can be old paint, plumbing fixtures and water.
Pennsylvania is behind only Minnesota in the number of children with elevated lead levels.
All children in the commonweatlth should be tested and we support the governor’s plan to do so.
“This is an excellent idea that will help protect children in Pennsylvania,” Susan Eckert, executive director of the Partnership for Public Health, told LNP. “Universal testing is a requirement in other states, like Maryland. It would identify children who have lead poisoning but were never suspected to have it.”
As it stands, less than 30 percent of children under the age of 2 in Pennsylvania have been tested, according to the state Department of Health.
If children with elevated lead levels can be identified, they can be treated, which is critical because, as Baldrige reported, even small amounts of lead in a child’s system can cause serious cognitive, learning and behavioral issues that will last a lifetime.
“I think people should recognize by doing nothing about this problem we are decreasing the intellectual ability of thousands of children in Pennsylvania,” Dr. Marilyn Howarth, an environmental toxicology physician at the University of Pennsylvania, told LNP.
Parents also need to be involved in this process. As Dr. Rachel Levine, acting secretary of health and physician general, said last week, parents should talk to their pediatricians and identify risk factors. Even limited exposure to lead can be dangerous.
Community health nurses provide education to parents and also help monitor children whose lead levels are identified as high. The department also operates a toll-free lead information line, 1-800-440-LEAD (5323), to provide information and referrals for concerned parents or professionals.
Universal testing makes sense and we hope the Department of Health and the Legislature can work together to draft a bill that requires testing for children under 2. It’s pretty clear, based on recent history, that testing will not become a priority without legislation.
Testing rates varied greatly from county to county in 2015, from 12 percent of children to 47 percent.
But only 16 percent of Lancaster County children were tested for lead in 2015. And the county has the fourth highest population of children 2 years of age and younger in the state — some 14,500 children in that age range.
A Journal of Pediatrics study indicated that about 1.2 million children in the U.S. were estimated to have had elevated blood lead levels between 1999 and 2010.
Pennsylvania trails other states in measures to protect children from lead exposure. Nineteen states have passed laws intended to do just that — from requiring the testing of children to making sure the water sources in schools and day care centers are safe.
Prevention and remediation efforts can be effective and should be part of the solution. For example, in January, Lancaster stopped the opening of three day care centers in the city after discovering unsafe levels of lead, its first enforcement of a new law aimed at protecting children.
The governor’s proposal is reasonable and it’s up to our General Assembly to draft legislation as quickly as possible so children get tested.
Lead poisoning might be an old problem but it’s still here, mainly because we’re not doing enough to get rid of it.
Article Source: http://lancasteronline.com/opinion/editorials/children-in-pennsylvania-need-to-be-tested-for-lead-poisoning/article_e335a0a2-8f5d-11e7-babd-9b8b9f3c73d3.html
HICAGO (AP) — Taxpayers are still paying landlords as dozens of children are being poisoned by brain-damaging lead while living in homes and apartments declared safe by the Chicago Housing Authority.
Federal law requires the CHA to inspect subsidized homes before families move in and at least once a year afterward. But a newspaper analysis showed that for the past seven years, at least one child has been diagnosed with lead poisoning in 187 homes the housing authority approved for occupancy, the Chicago Tribune (http://trib.in/2oaFvUy) reported.
The analysis found that the CHA paid the landlords of the hazardous homes over $5.6 million in federal rent subsidies, with nearly $1 million of that delivered to landlords who were facing housing code violations or lawsuits regarding deteriorating lead-based paint.
Young kids remain at risk because the housing inspectors only check visually for cracked and peeling lead-based paint, instead of confirming hazards with dust swabs or hand-held scanners. The CHA does not consider lead paint a “life-threatening” hazard that landlords must immediately fix in order to collect taxpayer subsidies through the Section 8 voucher program.
The majority of subsidized rentals are in low-income, predominantly African-American neighborhoods on the West and South sides of the city. Harvard University sociologist studying the Englewood neighborhood on the South Side calls lead paint a “pathway through which racial inequality literally gets into your body.”
CHA officials have been saying that they are working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a new “proactive approach” to the inspections. But the agency’s renewed guidelines for the voucher program in February showed no changes to its inspection procedures.
“By failing to do anything about the lead, they are making crippled children who are going to grow up to be crippled adults,” said Tolanda McMullen, the mother of a child who was poisoned while living in a home approved by inspectors. “They don’t even have a chance because it was taken from them when they were babies.”
Article Source: https://www.usnews.com/news/best-states/illinois/articles/2017-04-08/landlords-still-paid-amid-kids-lead-poisoning-in-cha-homes
SB 1073, the California Lead Safety Enhancement Act of 2016
California Lead Safety Enhancement Act of 2016 was recently introduced by Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning (17th Dist). The bill eliminates regulatory confusion regarding certification for lead paint removal by aligning California law with the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s Renovation Repair and Painting rule.
As you know, California’s lead laws and the federal RRP complement each other in many ways, but there are differences that make implementing two sets of regulations difficult and confusing. In addition, there is little enforcement, so that firms who don’t play by the rules have an unfair advantage over those who do.
SB 1073 will help fix these problems.
The bill (one of the sponsors is the California Association of Code Enforcement Officers) does not create any new regulations or fees. Instead, it conforms federal and state regulations to minimize regulatory confusion and encourages state, county and city enforcement while using existing fees to cover costs associated with increased state responsibilities.
Call to Action!
Last week, SB 1073 passed out of the Senate Committee on Environmental Quality. As it moves forward, it will face many challenges, so expanding the list of supporters is vitally important.
RRP Certified Individuals: For those of you who complain about the lack of enforcement and the difficulty following both California and RRP regulations, now is your chance to set things right. A few minutes of your time to add your name to the list of supporters will make a huge difference.
CDPH Certified Individuals Enforcement of lead safe work practices will benefit both abatement and testing companies, so please add your company to the list of supporters.
Don’t wait, take a few minutes today to express your support for SB 1073, the California Lead Safety Enhancement Act of 2016.