Warning: Your School May Be Hazardous to Your Health

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Health issues are not a high priority in most school districts. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency attempts to monitor some of the risks, but schools themselves rarely receive resources or technical assistance to identify hazards, let alone fix them. Enforcement of environmental health legislation is so lax that administrators often are able to ignore potential health hazards, especially those that are difficult to measure. "With no carrot and no stick,'' says Joel Packer, a legislative specialist for the National Education Association, "it's not surprising that a lot of schools haven't tested'' for assorted hazards.

Often, teachers must struggle to get their school districts to listen to their complaints and health concerns, but, with enough public pressure, most districts respond. In Hartford, Conn., for example, teachers complained that the lack of fresh air in district schools was responsible for their headaches, dizziness, and fatigue. After much lobbying, the teachers won: The school board agreed to repair the faulty ventilation systems causing the problem.

In the following pages, Teacher Magazine examines five of the most common environmental hazards in schools: indoor air pollution, pesticides, asbestos, lead in drinking water, and radon. Each section includes sources teachers can turn to for more information.

For a general overview of the problem, teachers can order a copy of Environmental Hazards in Your School: A Resource Handbook from the EPA's Toxic Substances Control Act Hotline, (202) 554-1404. As long as the supplies last, callers can request as many as five copies of the booklet, which was prepared by the EPA, the NEA, the National Parent Teacher Association, and four other national health and education organizations.

Vol. 02, Issue 06, Page 1-24

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >