Healthy School Environments
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General School Resources
- Protecting Health and the Environment at K-12 Schools, Including Art Programs presents two free manuals—one is a primary environmental compliance guide for K-12 schools, while the other serves the same purpose for art programs at K-12 schools, colleges and art studios. Both manuals also provide best management practices applicable to schools' environmental concerns.
- Healthy School Environment Resources is your gateway to on-line resources to help facility managers, school administrators, architects, design engineers, school nurses, parents, teachers and staff address environmental health issues in schools.
- Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT) is a unique software tool developed by EPA to help school districts evaluate and manage key environmental, safety and health issues at school facilities. Designed to be customized and used by district-level staff to conduct completely voluntary self-assessments of their school (and other) facilities and to track and manage information on environmental conditions school by school.
- National Institute of Health (NIH) Mad as a Hatter Mercury Abatement Campaign provides information that you can use about NIH's campaign to eliminate all unnecessary uses of mercury in their NIH facilities, encourage the use of safer alternatives in biomedical research, increase general awareness of mercury hazards, and prevent mercury spills and pollution.
- Children's Health Protection contains tips and information to protect children from potential environmental hazards.
- Healthy Schools for Healthy Learning lets you explore the site while learning about indoor environmental quality, safe chemical storage and other environmental health topics that affect schools. The highlight of this site is the Schoolhouse Tour. By taking this tour you can explore a variety of classrooms and other locations of a school. Along the way you will learn important information about environmental health in schools.
Health and Safety Guide for K-12 Schools in Washington (PDF) (91 pp, 1.1 MB, About PDF) , developed by the State of Washington, is a guide for schools to use as a self-inspection tool. It recommends good health and safety practices to help ensure safer schools.
- Tribal Schools Compliance Assistance Notebook provides quick access to the many programs and resources available to help prevent and resolve environmental issues in schools. EPA Region 10 has compiled these materials to assist Tribal school districts and Tribal schools in complying with Federal laws and regulations and maintaining school facilities that are safe and healthy for students and staff.
- EPA's Schools and Mercury Web site provides links to information for school administrators, faculty, staff, local health jurisdictions, and parent groups on how to reduce the hazards of mercury on children's health, avoid chemical liabilities, develop planning tools, and establish collection programs for mercury.
- Mercury: An Educator's Toolkit provides detailed information and resources related to mercury safety in schools.
- Fact Sheets for Schools and Teachers about PCB-Contaminated Caulk provides information about the possibility of PCBs in caulk used in some buildings, including schools, in the 1950s through the 1970s; a PCBs in caulk school checklist; and suggestions on what to say to children about PCBs to encourage proper precautions.
Developing a Chemical Management Program
General Chemical Management Program Resources
- CPSC and NIOSH School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide (PDF) (86 pp, 1.7MB) is a safety guide for high school science and chemistry laboratories. It provides practical safety information in a checklist format useful to both groups to reduce chemical injuries in a laboratory environment.
- Idaho's Department of Environmental Quality's Waste Management Educational Tools: Chemical Roundup provides fact sheets on best practices for pollution prevention in school labs, chemical inventory, storage, and disposal.
- Pollution Prevention Measures for Safer School Laboratories (PDF) (10 pp, 120K), developed by EPA Region 8 and Roche Colorado, is an easy to read tool kit offering tips on maintaining an inventory, chemical purchasing, storage, and labeling, and pollution prevention.
- The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Office of Environmental Health and Safety (OEHS) provides many resources for school officials, including a searchable product review tool, lists of chemicals approved by the State of California and OEHS for use in LAUSD school laboratories, information about its Chemical Hygiene Program and a Science Safety Handbook for California Public Schools.
- Rehab the Lab is a program King County Washington created to help schools manage their hazardous chemicals. You can download fully scripted lesson plans for least-toxic chemistry labs, information on ways to reduce chemical stockpiles in biology labs, and a list of chemicals whose risks outweigh their educational utility.
- Florida SC3 includes information on how to conduct a chemical inventory.
- The State of Tennessee's SC3 Inventory Procedures Web site provides an inventory spreadsheet and guidance on inventory procedures.
Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS)
An MSDS is a comprehensive fact sheet prepared by chemical manufacturers that describes the physical properties, health effects, and other characteristics of chemicals, as well as procedures for handling, storing, and disposing. The Web sites listed below offer valuable information on MSDS:
- The NIOSH Pocket Guide to Chemical Hazards is intended as a source of general industrial hygiene information on several hundred chemicals/classes for workers, employers, and occupational health professionals. The information found in the Pocket Guide can help users recognize and control chemical hazards.
- Where to Find MSDS on the Internet provides MSDS resources for governments and nonprofit organizations. Users can search MSDS resources by product or manufacturer.
Many chemical management practices are often regulated at the federal, state, and/or local level. Contact your state or local health departments for more information.
- Contact your state environmental department about specific regulations.
- Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Chemicals in Laboratories provides information on Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulation 29CFR1910.1450.
- EPA's Hazardous Waste Generators and Lab Waste at Educational Institutions sites outline federal hazardous waste storage and requirements.
Chemical Use and Management
- Green Cleaning Fact Sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 67K) explains basic green cleaning concepts and offers tips on how to build a green cleaning program.
- EPA's Environmentally Preferable Purchasing (EPP) describes environmentally preferable purchasing and provides tools for choosing and buying greener products. Specifically the Green Cleaning page discusses environmental attributes and provides additional resources.
- Cleaning Products and Services discusses where to purchase more environmentally sustainable cleaning products and factors to consider when purchasing cleaning supplies.
- Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator is a tool that can be used to assist with purchasing more environmentally-friendly cleaning products. In addition to the tool, this Web site discusses green cleaning benefits.
- Healthy Schools Network, Inc.'s Guide to Green Cleaning: Healthier Cleaning & Maintenance Practices and Products for Schools (PDF) (8 pp, 261K) offers examples of policy and practices for green cleaning.
- Healthy Schools Campaign contains case studies of schools that have switched to using safer cleaning alternatives, lists of certified green cleaners and additional resources on purchasing safer cleaning products.
- Household Products Database by the National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine is a database that links over 6,000 consumer brands to health effects from Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) and allows scientists and consumers to research products based on chemical ingredients. The database can help answer questions regarding the toxicity and health effects of chemical ingredients in a specific product.
- Western Regional Pollution Prevention Network: Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project provides information on proper storage and care of chemicals. This project is an effort to reduce the risk and raise the awareness of chemicals for janitorial staff. The Web site mentions risks associated with cleaners and ways to manage chemicals more safely.
- INFORM's Cleaning For Health: Products and Practices for a Safer Indoor Environment is a one-stop guide to environmentally preferable cleaning products and methods that have been effectively used in office buildings, schools, hospitals and other facilities. It describes product evaluation programs and lists the brands that were chosen based on environmental and performance criteria. It also provides a model specification, as well as manufacturer contacts and other resources for those who want to develop a safer cleaning program for their buildings.
- Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC) Guideline for Selection and Use of Disinfectants, geared towards health care personnel, provides information for selecting and properly using disinfectants.
- Fact Sheet Series - Cleaning, Sanitizing, and Targeted Disinfecting, by the National Education Association Health Information Network, explains the importance of implementing a comprehensive cleaning program in specific school settings. The fact sheets address the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting and discuss procedures for preventing and controlling an infectious disease outbreak.
- School Wide (PDF) (4 pp, 2.2 MB) - Tips for Custodial and Maintenance Staff
- Classroom (PDF) (4 pp, 3.3 MB) - Tips for Teachers and Paraprofessionals
- Cafeteria and Kitchen (PDF) (4 pp, 2.5 MB) - Tips for Food Service Workers
- Athletics Department (PDF) (4 pp, 2.9 MB) - Tips for Athletic Directors, Physical Educators, and Coaches
- School Bus (PDF) (4 pp, 3.6 MB) - Tips for Bus Drivers
Integrated Pest Management
- Integrated Pest Management in Schools defines Integrated Pest Management (IPM), how to get started with IPM, and common pests. It also provides resources regarding IPM, as well as comments from organizations that are currently practicing IPM.
- National School IPM Information Source , sponsored by the University of Florida and EPA, offers valuable information on IPM and programs in your state.
- Integrated Pest Management (IPM) in Schools: Protecting Children in Schools from Pests and Pesticides (PDF) (102 pp, 28.1 MB) is a presentation by EPA Region 2 that provides a comprehensive overview of the steps to develop and implement IPM in schools. The presentation addresses how to conduct inspections, identify and monitor pest issues, and perform regular sanitation and maintenance.
Greening Labs and Lesson Plans
- Green Chemical Alternatives Purchasing Wizard is a web-based tool created by MIT. The wizard is a guided process that allows the user to search from a select list of solvents commonly used in the laboratory, and the associated process. The Wizard identifies less hazardous and more environmentally benign chemicals or processes that may be substituted, and provides journal references as well as URLs to information that is available online.
- Green Chemistry Experiments for High Schools developed by Union University in Tennessee these green chemistry manuals offer lab experiments that use less hazardous chemicals.
- Green Your Lesson Plans discusses lesson plans that can be incorporated into curricula on environmental topics. Topics vary from energy to waste reduction to air quality. Some of the topics that directly relate to chemicals include: green chemistry, chemistry of cleaning and chemical management plans.
- Least Toxic Chemistry Labs: King County, Washington features a curriculum that discusses a hazard-free lab. The curriculum is designed for high school chemistry classes.
- Green Chemistry Institute: American Chemistry Society provides activities and resources on green chemistry. Some of the resources include lesson plans and textbooks.
- National Microscale Chemistry Center describes microscale chemistry, the equipment, and benefits.
- Science Safety Information Guides were developed by the Council of State Supervisors with support from other organizations. The site contains separate guides for elementary and secondary science teachers on general science safety.
- EnviRN contains information on mercury and Green Schools of Nursing.
- The National Association of School Nurses Position Statement on Environmental Impact Concerns in the School Setting states that preventing potentially toxic environmental exposures in children is an essential element in promoting student health and educational success. The paper also provides additional resources for nurses.
Public Service Announcements
These public service announcements (PSAs) target K-12 school and community partners. The PSAs can be used to promote school chemical cleanout information.
PSA for Organizations
Is Chemical Safety Part of the Equation? (PDF) (1 pg, 4.3MB)
Learn how your organization can work with schools to protect kids from chemical accidents.PSA for Schools
Mismanaged chemicals expose students and staff to unnecessary dangers. Learn about the Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign.
Watch the SC3 video: Maria Vickers, Deputy Director of EPA’s Office of Solid Waste (renamed the Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery on January 18, 2009), and Maria Johnson, Science Department Chair at Wakefield High School in Arlington, VA discuss the Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign.
Download the Lab Out Loud podcast When Good Chemicals Go Bad . Lab Out Loud is sponsored by the National Science Teachers Association.
Read Clean Out the Chemicals on Greenversations, the official blog of the US EPA.
These presentations can be used by teachers, administrators, and state officials to promote safe chemical management.
- Chemical Safe Schools in Rhode Island (PDF) (11 pp, 78K) highlights Safe Schools in Rhode Island; discusses utilizing schools resources, such as the chemical hygiene officer and business officers; and mentions accessing outside resources, such as local health and safety officers and fire marshals.
- No More " Methyl Something": Improving Management of Curriculum Chemicals in Schools (PDF) (42 pp, 803K) discusses where chemicals are found, the risks of chemicals, chemical storage practices, actions that can be taken to reduce chemical risks, and chemical resources.
- Planning for Environmental Health and Safety Issues in Schools (PDF) (40 pp, 882K) provides basic information about safe chemical management, examples of mismanaged and inappropriate chemicals in schools, and actions schools can take to address the problem.