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Protecting Health and the Environment at K-12 Schools, Including Art Programs

Two free guidance documents are now available free from EPA, one covering all aspects of K-12 schools and one specifically for art programs. They include:

What do these guidance manuals provide?

One manual is intended to be a primary environmental compliance guide for K-12 schools, while the other manual serves the same purpose for art programs at K-12 schools, colleges and art studios. The K-12 manual is intended for teachers, custodians, maintenance workers, administrators and other staff members.  The art manual was written specifically for art teachers.  The manuals cover not only environmental compliance, but also provide best management practices applicable to schools' environmental concerns.

What is a Best Management Practice and why is it important?

A Best Management Practice, or BMP, is a recommended management and/or maintenance activity based on an approach that has been shown to work effectively, typically using readily available equipment or technology. At a time when schools nationwide need to stretch funding farther with each passing year, the best management practices, including pollution prevention (P2) opportunities, presented can help to eliminate unnecessary costs. For example, centralizing chemical purchases to reduce redundancy or excess has been routinely successful in shrinking not only upfront purchase costs, but also eventual waste management and disposal costs, with minimal effort.

Many of the actions needed to ensure regulatory compliance, as well as to initiate BMPs and P2, are simple, inexpensive, can be implemented by individual staff in their own work areas, and can result in substantial savings and reduced potential liability for schools and school districts.

What is environmentally significant about schools?

There are over 130,000 public and private K-12 schools in the United States, staffed by over 3.5 million teachers and several million custodians, bus drivers, maintenance staff and administrators, serving more than 50 million students – greater than the population of all but the 23 largest nations on Earth – and most of these students are in an age range at which they may be most vulnerable to environmental contaminants. By taking a comprehensive view of all environmental regulatory requirements, BMP's and P2 opportunities, the manuals help identify and allow correction of potential environmental protection and public health risks, thereby improving protection of students and staff alike.


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