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EPA Administrator Whitman Announces Funding During Visits to Maine and NH Schools

Release Date: 09/23/2002
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - Touting children's health protection as "the most important work we can do," EPA Administrator Christie Whitman today announced $60,000 of grants to help schools in Maine and New Hampshire improve indoor air quality and reduce other potential environmental threats.

Flanked by state and local officials, Whitman visited the Riverton Elementary School in Portland where she announced $45,000 of grants to the American Lung Association of Maine – $15,000 to expand the use of the agency's Tools for Schools indoor air quality program in Maine schools and $30,000 to develop Environmental Management Systems (EMSs) that will be piloted in at least two Maine schools. An EMS is a systematic method for evaluating and improving a broad range of environmental issues. In the case of schools, an EMS would cover such topics as pesticides, drinking water quality, chemical use and indoor air quality.

Whitman also toured the Little Harbour School in Portsmouth, a national EPA award winner last year and one of the first schools in the country to implement Tools for Schools. After seeing many of the school's air quality improvements first-hand, Whitman announced an additional $15,000 of funding to the state of New Hampshire to expand Tools for Schools.

"More than 50 million children in America spend their days in elementary and secondary schools, and studies show over half of those schools are confronted with health issues that are linked to poor indoor air quality," Whitman said. "Today's visits show there are a multitude of ways that schools can improve indoor air quality – and, without spending a lot of money. In addition to those efforts, we need to be looking at a broader range of potential health threats in our schools, which is why the development of EMSs in Maine holds so much promise."

Tools for Schools is a voluntary EPA program to assist school officials in preventing and solving indoor air quality problems. The Tools for Schools kit includes a checklist for evaluating problems and specific actions for improving air quality, including improving air ventilation, curbing mold problems, testing for radon and preventing exposure to diesel bus emissions. EPA has provided more than $1 million to help the New England states implement the program.

More than 400 schools in New England have implemented Tools for Schools, with 350 of those joining the program in the past two years. Maine and New Hampshire each have more than 30 schools that have implemented the program and that number is expected to rise dramatically in the next year or two.

"Tools for Schools has been hugely helpful for us in improving indoor air quality," said Little Harbour school nurse Priscilla Santiago. "Without spending exorbitant amounts of money, the changes at the school have led to far fewer nurse office visits and dramatically improved student attendance rates."

The American Lung Association of Maine has worked with EPA on indoor air quality issues in schools for many years, with much of its work focusing on implementing Tools for Schools through its "Safe and Healthy Schools" project. Later this month, the ALA will hold a "kick off" meeting for the EMS project, where representatives from several southern Maine schools can learn about EMSs and begin discussing the benefits to the schools.

"The American Lung Association of Maine is pleased to receive this grant from the EPA to expand our efforts to assure a safe and healthy school environment for all Maine students and school employees," said Arthur Cerullo, president of the American Lung Association of Maine. "EPA support will help us and our many partners to effectively address school indoor air quality concerns and other school environmental health issues."

To learn more about Tools for Schools, visit or call 1-617-918-1639.