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Release Date: 08/08/2002
Contact Information: Wesley Lambert, EPA Media Relations, 404-562-8316
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Buist Academy for Advanced Studies has been selected as an Indoor Air Quality-Tools for Schools Excellence Award winner. It is one of three schools/school districts in the southeast (twenty-one nationally) selected for exemplary support and implementation of EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) program to improve indoor air quality. The other two winners in the southeast are Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Kentucky and Williamson County School District, Franklin, Tennessee.

Students played a pivotal role in launching the IAQ TfS Program at Buist Academy for Advanced Studies. In 2000, a sixth grade class designed a model classroom to demonstrate how the learning environment could be improved. Using checklists provided in the Kit, students, along with staff members, performed walkthroughs to identify areas of primary concern. They focused on window restoration and researched the impacts of natural lighting in classrooms on health, academic performance, and energy costs. The following year's sixth graders continued the project by conducting several months of research to determine alternatives to worn-out carpet in the school. After reviewing the students' report, the school board and PTA approved new window and carpet purchases for the school and used outside funds, including contributions from student fund raisers, local businesses, and manufacturers. Students continue to contribute to the success of the IAQ TfS Program at Buist. They participate in presentations to local youth service organizations and are preparing a video to help other schools implement IAQ TfS. The students' activities have generated positive publicity and interest from organizations and other school districts.

The awards were presented to school district representatives on Thursday, August 8, 2002 at EPA's 3rd annual IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium in Washington, D.C. The Symposium brings school officials, nurses, teachers, facility managers, parents and others together to raise awareness about indoor air quality and the potential negative effect that poor indoor air quality can have on children=s health.

Children spend an average of eight hours a day in school. Pollutants inside classrooms and other indoor school facilities are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels and can trigger asthma attacks. Asthma in young children has risen by nearly 60 percent in the last 15 years and is responsible for 10 million missed school days per year.

IAQ Tools for Schools is a nationwide initiative to help school officials assess, resolve, and prevent indoor air quality problems and reduce exposure to asthma triggers in school facilities. Available to schools at no cost, the IAQ Tools for Schools kit shows schools how to improve indoor air problems at little cost by using simple activities and existing schools staff.