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EPA releases voluntary guidelines for implementing school environmental health program

EPA is pleased to announce the release of Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program.   The guidelines were mandated by the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 and were developed in consultation with other federal agencies, states, school officials, and non-profit organizations.

School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Children spend 90% of their time indoors and much of that time is spent in school. Unhealthy school environments can affect children’s health, attendance, concentration, and performance, as well as lead to expensive, time-consuming cleanup and remediation activities.

These voluntary guidelines recommend six steps states can take to build or enhance a school environmental health program.  The guidelines also include a model K-12 school environmental health program as a resource that states can customize and share with schools and school districts to help them establish, or enhance an existing, school environmental health program.  The model program incorporates EPA’s unique school health programs such as Tools for Schools, ENERGY Star for K-12 Schools and others, to help schools and school districts begin or enhance a comprehensive school environmental health program.

To complement the guidelines release, OCHP will be hosting two webinars in October and November, respectively. The first webinar, Why Environmental Health Matters in Schools, will be held on October 17th from 2:00-3:00pm EST.  The webinar will feature Larry K. Lowry, PhD, Director of the Southwest Center for Pediatric Environmental Health (SWCPEH) and Director of Graduate Programs in Environmental Health at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler, who will discuss the critical link between students and their environment and how it can affect their performance in school.

The second webinar, Integrated School Health Tools for Districts, will be held on Wednesday November 7th from 2:00-3:00pm EST.  This webinar will discuss how schools and school districts can create healthy environments for students by implementing a comprehensive, sustainable environmental health program.  The webinar will feature highlights, tips, and strategies from established state programs.  You can register for both webinars at: https://esbuildings.webex.com/mw0306ld/mywebex/default.do?siteurl=esbuildings

I encourage you to share this announcement and the guidelines with your colleagues and partners to help promote healthy school environments for children.
To learn more about the guidelines, please visit our website at www.epa.gov/schools.  If you have questions or are interested in working with us to promote healthy schools, please contact Cyndy Merse at (202)566-2970 or email merse.cynthia@epa.gov.

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