It is critical to have good indoor air quality in a school, in order to create a positive learning environment. Harsh chemicals found in many conventional cleaning supplies and products used in classrooms often deteriorate the air quality.
Attending school should be a safe and positive experience for kids. “Children attend school to gain the knowledge and social interaction that will allow them to develop into happy, healthy adults. Unfortunately, many school environments contain hazards –such as poor indoor air quality, mold, pests and pesticides, and lead –that may impede that development. Such hazards pose serious health risks, which may cause illness and, in turn, increase rates of student absenteeism and decrease academic performance” (healthyschoolscampaign.org)
As we send our children off to school, is their school environment as clean as it should be? Considering all the potential hazards at school, indoor air quality is a significant one. The first issue is that there are no set standards or best practice for cleaning a classroom and or regarding the chemicals that are used. There is the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OSHA) of regulations however that only currently applies to 22 states. You could look into your own state’s building codes, occupational and environmental health laws and school localized best practice (if they have it) specifically when it comes to chemicals in cleaning supplies. Important questions to ask are about how a school facility deals with indoor air quality. How they determine that these cleaning chemicals don’t contribute to the problem? If we don’t start asking questions we become part of the problem.
“Action and Resource Guide for Healthy Schools” has quoted from Dr Carolyn C. Lopez, MD and Peter Orris, MD, MPH “ Children’s developing organ systems—especially the brain, immune system, lungs and endocrine systems, including reproductive organs—are highly vulnerable to metals and organic substances. Exposures to several different toxic substances are known to result in a shortened attention span, leading to a reduced ability to learn and a reduced IQ.
So what can we do to protect our children? Start by researching if your school has an indoor air quality program. Contact your EPA at http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/ and order a kit. This will give you ideas beyond cleaning methods and chemicals used in cleaning supplies and products in schools methods. If we ask questions we can start working towards a solution. As parents we have the right to ask question since our children are our future. Please don’t be fooled if someone says they use “green” or “environmentally friendly” cleaning supplies since many are unproven or untested and some contain carcinogens. Don’t blame the custodians. In many cases they feel that they are doing the right thing and are following a process or regulations.
In many instances, chemicals are also used to combat or cover up bigger problems like mold, and are equally has harmful to our children. This is an additional element to consider when you approach your local school or district. It is critical since chemicals in cleaning products and procedures used in schools are supposed to keep our kids safe and cancer free! “"Among U.S. residents, 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women will develop cancer at some point in their lifetimes. Research shows that environmental factors trigger diseases like cancer, especially when someone has a family history," said Kenneth Olden, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, which prepared the report for HHS” (medicinenet.com)
In the meantime, you may also want to look at the chemicals in cleaning supplies and products that you’re using in your home. Start by reading and researching the labels, which may lead to some scary findings! Also research companies like GenEon who offer toxic free cleaning supplies and products. GenEon is leading the charge to this very serious problem with a very simple solution.