National report on schools points to health crisis for children

A new report released December 3 reveals compelling evidence of how polluted air inside and outside schools escalates health care costs, increases absenteeism, and reduces test scores. Produced by the National Coalition for Healthier Schools, Sick Schools 2009 - America’s Continuing Environmental Health Crisis for Children, compiles peer reviewed studies from policy advocates in 20 states and the District of Columbia to make the case for healthy schools.

The Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health – MassCOSH, a member of the national coalition, sees the report as a red flag that federal support is desperately needed for school modernization and repair. Tolle Graham, Healthy Schools Coordinator at MassCOSH, says “Local school districts and the Commonwealth cannot carry the full financial load needed to bring our schools up to 21st Century - and healthy standards. And in the meantime, more schools fall further into disrepair leaving few options for the children and staff who learn and work in these buildings.”

Anne Wass, president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, agrees. "We believe that every student deserves a great public school - and that starts with the physical environment,” says Wass. "Environmental hazards or bad air quality should never get in the way of a student's ability to learn and grow. As educators, we believe that all students and all staff deserve healthy and safe places to learn."

The report shows that fully one-fifth of the nation’s population spends its days in school buildings. It provides ample evidence that when these buildings have old roofs, antiquated heating and ventilation systems, and other structural problems, the health of people in the building suffers.

The full report is available here: http://www.healthyschools.org/SICK_SCHOOLS_2009.pdf