California Educator

September 2015

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When in doubt, "air" on the side of caution. If teachers, students and all public school employees followed some basic guidelines to protect against mold, stagnant classroom air, and other indoor air quality hazards, they could all breathe a little easier, experts and studies conclude. By Mike Myslinski As another school year begins, the need for teachers to remain vigilant about these ongoing hazards is critical, as student asthma rates have soared and classrooms can fester with asthma "triggers" like dust mites. About 16 percent of California children ages 5-17 have been diag- nosed with asthma, which is a leading cause of school absenteeism, according to the California Department of Education. In recent years, CTA focused on these and other classroom health issues as part of a project promot- ing teachers being proactive about air quality at work. But hazards persist. New red flags were raised by a 2013 study, the largest of its kind, that found a majority of 162 elementary classrooms in three California school districts failed to meet minimum state health standards for ventilating classrooms. The names of the districts were kept secret, but they were located in the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and a southern coastal area. Classroom windows were rarely opened to let in out- door fresh air, and portable classroom ventilation rates were worst of all, according to the two-year study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The study esti- mated that fixing the ventilation rates would cost about Tools for Schools Action Kit: The free indoor air quality EPA teach- er toolkit can be downloaded at actionkit.html. California teachers can request a limited number of free hard copies of the kit from Shelly Rosenblum, Radiation & Indoor Environments Teams, U.S. EPA / AIR-6, 75 Hawthorne St., San Francisco, CA 94105 (phone: 415-947-4193). CDE Guide for Educators: The California Department of Education indoor air quality guide for educators is at Free Lesson Plans: Numerous free lesson plans on envi- ronmental topics such as mold dangers, school pollution prevention, insect haz- ards, acid rain, global warming, and other timely issues are offered at this EPA link: AIR QUALITY RESOURCES The Air Inside Classroom indoor air quality fight continues 18 Know & Tell

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