Today, the EPA announced it will send federal investigators out to toxic school sites. We encourage our site visitors to contact the EPA and ask them to test schools for mold and indoor pollutants, as well as outdoor pollutants. Toxic indoor schools must also be shut down to protect life and health - for remediation or demolition. There are hotlines run by the EPA for other school environmental hazards, such as asbestos or other poisonous or chemical substances, but not for toxic mold in schools. We call upon the United States Environmental Protection Agency to:
1. Establish a School Toxic Mold Hotline
2. Inspect all schools where toxic mold is suspected or reported - using ERMI and state-of-the-art, destructive methods to inspect and test behind walls, above ceilings, and below floors.
3. Use their authority to protect children by shutting down hazardous school sites, including those with toxic molds.
4. Establish an ERMI study for school mold, with a database of molds found in water-damaged or damp school buildings, compared to dry or non-water-damaged school buildings.
EPA: Air tests near schools a priority
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The Smokestack Effect: Toxic Air and America's SchoolsWhat might be in the air outside your school?
Search for a school to see the toxic chemicals that government data indicated were in the air outside.
School Name (go to link above to look up your child's school)
By Blake Morrison and Brad Heath, USA TODAY
In an unprecedented step aimed at protecting children from toxic chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce plans Monday to determine whether industrial pollution taints the air outside schools across the nation.
The EPA plan, promised by new administrator Lisa Jackson during her Senate confirmation hearings in January, calls for regulators to identify 50 to 100 schools where pollution might pose significant health risks. At many of those locations, the agency will work with state and local regulators to monitor the air for a variety of toxic chemicals.
THE OVAL: EPA announces plan to test air around schools
JACKSON: Promises to investigate toxic hot spots around schools
FULL COVERAGE: Toxic air and America's schools
The agency could begin taking air samples within five weeks and may release some results within a few months. The cost of the effort is expected to be about $2.5 million and will be funded "through redirecting resources from the current budget as well as from the next fiscal year," says EPA spokesman Allyn Brooks-LaSure. "This is a priority."
The plan, the agency's first effort to systematically examine industrial pollution outside schools, comes in response to a USA TODAY investigation that used the government's own data to identify schools that might be in toxic hot spots — areas where chemicals may permeate the air.
FIND MORE STORIES IN: United States | United States Senate | Pennsylvania | Christmas | Louisiana | University of Maryland | D-Calif | Johns Hopkins University | Clean Air Act | Barbara Boxer | Lisa Jackson | Ohio EPA | Allyn Brooks-LaSure
Children are particularly susceptible to toxic chemicals; they breathe more air in proportion to their weight than do adults, and their bodies are still developing. Exposure to some chemicals can trigger ailments such as asthma or lead to cancer years or even decades later.
The newspaper's investigation, published in December, used a government computer simulation that showed at least 435 schools where the air outside appeared to be more toxic than the air at an Ohio elementary school closed in 2005. There, the Ohio EPA found levels of carcinogens 50 times what the state considered acceptable. USA TODAY subsequently teamed with Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland to take "snapshot" air samples near 95 schools in 30 states. At 64 of those locations, the newspaper found elevated levels of chemicals.
In most cases, no one knows for certain what's in the air. That's because the Clean Air Act doesn't require regulators to check for hundreds of the most dangerous chemicals.
The EPA plan comes as two states — Pennsylvania and Louisiana — say their own monitoring showed no problems near schools. Friday, Pennsylvania issued a news release saying its monitoring outside four schools found "no unsafe levels of air pollutants." The agency based its conclusion on about 12 days of monitoring, including some during Christmas week 2008. It did not say whether nearby industries were operating during its monitoring.
Such findings could influence where the U.S. EPA monitors, but Jackson vowed the issue has "the full attention" of the agency. "This is going to remain an urgent matter for us," Jackson said. "I plan to remain personally involved in this." She said getting definitive answers might take months.
During the confirmation hearing in January, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., pushed Jackson to commit to monitoring outside schools. In a statement, Boxer said she was "pleased" with the EPA plan.
"Congress was right to be seized by this," Brooks-LaSure said. "We need to move into action."
Comments (go to link above to add your own)
As Director of The Center for School Mold Help, the premiere national nonprofit with educational information about mold in schools, I call upon the EPA and Administrator Jackson to inspect schools for mold and other toxic pollutants, indoors, as well as outdoors. Students in our country are much more likely to become exposed to toxins indoors, such as those emitted by toxic molds in our increasingly damp school buildings. Visit www.schoolmoldhelp.org to learn why your children are DEFINITELY AT RISK WHEN THEY GO TO SCHOOL. We expect that the new administration in the White House and at the EPA will no longer tolerate American children and school staff being made ill by toxic indoor pollutants. This can be addressed - there are solutions and prevention, but without laws or monitoring, nothing will happen, and American children will keep on getting sicker - right now, one in six reported being diagnosed with asthma in a recent CDC study. We need help from the EPA!
Director, The Center for School Mold Help
EPA follows through: Announces plan to measure air around schools for toxics
By Mark Memmott, USA TODAY
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As predicted by USA TODAY this morning, the Environmental Protection Agency today has announced what it says is a "new initiative to further measure levels of toxic air pollution near many schools across the country."
The action was largely inspired by USA TODAY's "Toxic Air and America's Schools" project.
In a statement, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson says:
"I'm a mother first, and like all parents, I want to be sure my children are breathing healthy air at school. Questions have been raised about air quality around some U.S. schools, and those questions merit investigation. EPA will work quickly to make assessments and take swift action where necessary. Our job is to protect the American public where they live, work and play -- and that certainly includes protecting schoolchildren where they learn."
------------------------------- Jackson Announces EPA Schools Monitoring Initiative
Release date: 03/02/2009
Contact Information: Cathy Milbourn, 202-564-4355 /
Administrator Jackson: ‘Our job is to protect the American public where they live, work and play – and that certainly includes protecting schoolchildren where they learn.’
(Washington, D.C. – March 2, 2009) Lisa Jackson, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, announced today a new initiative to further measure levels of toxic air pollution near many schools across the country for better protection. EPA and its state partners will prioritize and monitor schools for more extensive air quality analysis, looking closely at schools located near large industries and in urban areas.
“I’m a mother first, and like all parents, I want to be sure my children are breathing healthy air at school,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Questions have been raised about air quality around some U.S. schools, and those questions merit investigation. EPA will work quickly to make assessments and take swift action where necessary. Our job is to protect the American public where they live, work and play – and that certainly includes protecting schoolchildren where they learn.”
Administrator Jackson has outlined an aggressive timeline for prioritizing and monitoring schools to determine any which are exposed to high levels of toxic air pollution. EPA anticipates monitoring at some schools will begin within the next 30 days. Directed by EPA, the monitoring will be conducted primarily by state and local governments. Some states have already begun monitoring.
Recent media reports have raised critical questions about air quality outside schools near large industrial facilities. At Administrator Jackson’s confirmation hearings, she was asked about this issue by Congress and pledged to take swift action to investigate and remediate if necessary any potential high-risk exposure for our nation’s school children.
EPA will work with states, tribes, and local communities to ensure that monitors are deployed quickly to get high-quality data and to share results with American families. This partnership will help EPA maximize its monitoring and analytical capabilities to develop a clearer picture of any potential risks to children from toxic air pollution. This action is particularly critical in some low-income areas, which are sometimes disproportionately impacted by environmental degradation.
From 1990 to 2005, emissions of air toxics in the United States declined 41 percent. Levels of air toxics, however, can vary widely from place to place depending upon a number of factors including the amount and types of industry nearby, proximity to heavily traveled or congested roadways, and weather patterns.
More information: http://www.epa.gov/air/toxicair/newtoxics.html
Environmental Justice Hotline
Established to receive calls from concerned citizens about justice issues in their communities, the purpose of the Hotline is to make information easily accessible to the public and to the media, and to assist in the resolution of environmental justice issues. The Hotline is answered by staff of OEJ. A procedure has been established to ensure thorough follow-up. A brochure describing the Hotline (in both English and Spanish) is available.
Indoor Air Quality Information Clearinghouse (IAQINFO)
The IAQ INFO provides access to public information on indoor environments through a range of services including: an operator-assisted hotline; distribution of relevant EPA publications at no charge; literature searches on a topic for further reference; referrals to appropriate government agencies, research, public interest, and industry representatives; and information about training courses and materials.
Inspector General Hotline
1-888-546-8740, 202-566-2476 (Washington, DC Area Local), 202-566-2549 (fax)
email: Mail Form
The Inspector General Hotline was established to receive and control complaints alleging fraud, waste, abuse, or mismanagement within the Environmental Protection Agency.
Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Hotline
202-554-1404, 202-554-5603 (fax)
The TAIS provides technical assistance and information about programs implemented under TSCA, the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Act (ASHAA), the Asbestos Hazard Emergency Response Act (AHERA), the Asbestos School Hazard Abatement Reauthorization Act (ASHARA), the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act (Title X of TSCA), and EPA's 33/50 program.
(older schools with mold often have asbestos problems as well) - SMH
(Note that mold is not included in any of the hotlines - just some IAQ info, not someone to come out and inspect and shut down a toxic school! SMH)