Connecticut Observes Healthy Schools Week

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The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) will join the rest of the nation in observing National Healthy Schools Week from April 27 through May 2, 2009. The DPH encourages schools to implement and maintain the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Tools for Schools program as a main strategy for addressing school indoor environment quality (IEQ) issues.

“Tools for Schools uses a team effort to find and correct indoor air problems,” stated DPH Commissioner Robert Galvin, MD, MPH, MBA. “In each school building, a team of administrators, parents, school nurses, teachers and custodians investigate and prioritize indoor air hazards. Short and long-term strategies are then developed to solve these problems.”

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In Connecticut, 780 schools have implemented the EPA Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (TfS) program, led by the DPH. This simple, inexpensive, team-oriented program to improve school indoor air quality focuses on the many low-cost or no-cost solutions that address factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality.

“With the current fiscal climate and energy concerns, it is important for school districts to implement this program to identify low- or no-cost solutions that can improve health and save money,” stated Commissioner Galvin.

The DPH and 23 other agencies and organizations – including the Connecticut State Departments of Education and Labor, the Connecticut Education Association and the New England EPA Regional office – have formed a consortium that help schools train and support Tools for Schools committees in identifying and addressing potential or current indoor air problems. This consortium, “Connecticut Indoor Environment Resource Team,” will help sponsor activities during the week.

Addressing school IEQ issues is an important part of the state’s overall strategy to reduce the impact of asthma. Since children spend much of their day in schools, it is very important to reduce exposures to asthma triggers in the school environment, particularly in urban schools. Schools that have implemented TfS have seen significant results. For example, the Chester school district saw the number of asthma-related health office visits decrease dramatically – from 463 to 256 in a single year after implementing the TfS program. The Hartford school district saw asthma-related incidents decline from 11,334 to 8929 in one school year.

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