Region 4 Children's Health Programs
Below is information on each of the following children's health program topics:
With almost 10 million school aged children in over throughout the Southeast, ensuring environmental safety in schools has become a top EPA priority in Region 4. EPA has a number of programs to address environmental issues in schools.
Schools Environmental Programs
Environmental issues at schools remain a significant concern. EPA has developed a number of tools and programs to promote healthy, safe school environments.
Details regarding our existing voluntary program efforts are provided below which highlight the collective efforts Region 4 is pursuing to improve the environment in schools.
Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (Healthy SEAT)
Software developed by EPA allows school systems to establish and manage voluntary, comprehensive, environmental management systems for all their school facility environmental health and safety issues. The free software helps track over 400 assessment actions and can be customized to reflect the school district’s priorities, and to track the status of facility conditions and improvements. For more details on the HealthySEAT Activities in Region 4 or the National HealthySEAT Program or for HealthySEAT downloads and printable materials visit the websites.
Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools
IPM programs employ a common sense strategy to reduce sources of food, water and shelter for pests. IPM programs take advantage of all pest management strategies, including careful use of pesticides when necessary. Region 4 currently has programs in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and North Carolina working to promote IPM in schools. Click on National IPM in Schools Program or for the University of Florida’s IPM Program for more information.
The Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA) requires schools to inspect for asbestos and submit publicly-available management plans to states. Region 4 conducts inspections to evaluate compliance assistance on AHERA. Click on Asbestos Programs in Region 4 or EPA's Asbestos in Schools Program for more information.
School Chemical Clean-out Campaign (SC3)
The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) aims to ensure that schools are free from hazards associated with dangerous or mismanaged chemicals. The goals of the Region 4 SC3 are to remove potentially harmful chemicals from schools; emphasize the implementation of preventive programs such as chemical management training for lab instructors and raise national awareness of the issue of chemicals in schools. SC3 accomplishes these goals by keeping an inventory and removing outdated and potentially harmful chemicals from schools, conducting educational workshops on safe chemical management, lab safety regulations, and chemical waste disposal, and promoting Green Chemistry, which uses less hazardous materials in K-12 schools. Click on Region 4 SC3 Program or the EPA’s National SC3 Program for more information .
The IAQ Tools for Schools program has been supporting schools for over a decade with the goal to reduce exposures to indoor environmental contaminants through outreach and education, technical tool development and awards. Overall, Region 4 has over Carolina3200 schools that participate in the IAQ Tools for Schools program which benefits more than on million students and staff. For more information, go to the National Tools for Schools Program website.
The SunWise program teaches children and their caregivers how to protect themselves from over exposure to the sun, which can cause skin cancer, eye damage, cataracts and immune system suppression. More than 2400 schools and informal learning centers participated in the program in 2006 throughout Region 4. For more information on this program, visit the National SunWise Program page.
School Bus Retrofit and Anti-idling Program
This program encourages reductions in unnecessary idling, retrofitting school buses with better emission control technologies and replacing the oldest buses in a fleet with newer, cleaner running buses. Through the Southeast Diesel Collaborative, EPA Region 4 has encouraged and supported more than 116 bus retrofit programs impacting more than 25,600 school buses. These school bus programs have resulted in the lifetime emission reductions of 82 tons of particulate matter, 472 tons of carbon monoxide, 771 tons of nitrous oxide, and 204 tons of hydrocarbons. We have also supported efforts by the Department of Defense to institute idle reduction programs for its school bus fleet. Benefits to children and communities include fewer asthma episodes and emergency room visits. For more information about Clean School Bus USA in Region 4 or about the Clean School Bus USA National Program, visit the websites.
Reducing Lead in Drinking Water
EPA developed a suite of new tools and guidance documents to encourage schools and child care facilities to implement the 3T’s (Training, Testing, Telling) – a voluntary lead in drinking water reduction program designed to strengthen, update and clarify existing requirements on water utilities. Exposure to lead is a significant health concern, especially for young children and infants, whose growing bodies tend to absorb more lead than the average adult. For more information on the National Drinking Water Program, visit the website.
Tribal School Programs
The majority of Native American tribes in Region 4 will address environmental health and safety in their schools through the 2008 General Assistance Program Grants. Programs include increasing awareness of environmental risks through detailed assessment and monitoring, inventorying and removing hazardous chemicals and mercury in school labs, decreasing energy consumption and encouraging pollution prevention practices.
Exposure to lead can cause a range of health effects from behavioral problems and learning disabilities to seizures and death. In children, exposure can cause irreversible brain damage and children under six are most at risk because their bodies are growing quickly. For information about what you can do to identify and reduce lead poisoning visit the National Lead Program or the Region 4 Lead Program website.
Exposure to allergens and irritants, including animal dander, cockroaches, mold and dust mites, plays a significant role in triggering asthma episodes in children. Region 4’s asthma program trained healthcare professionals, students, childcare providers and the general public in asthma management. This type of education and training is designed to reduce school absenteeism and hospital emergency room visits. For more information about asthma and asthma programs, visit the Region 4 Indoor Air Program Program.
Mercury – High levels of blood mercury are toxic during child development and may lead to increased risk for nervous system and developmental effects, delayed onset of walking and talking and abnormalities in vision, hearing and speech. For more information about State Mercury Programs visit the website.
Pesticides – Children are at a greater risk for some pesticides for a number of reasons. Children's internal organs are still developing and maturing and their enzymatic, metabolic, and immune systems may provide less natural protection than those of an adult. For more information about protecting children from pesticides visit the Pesticides Health and Safety website.