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DPH encourages schools to protect indoor air quality

By Connecticut Department of Public Health

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Hartford, CT - In recognition of National Healthy Schools Day on April 24th, the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) is encouraging schools to promote a healthy learning environment, and is offering resources to implement and maintain a nationally recognized indoor air quality program.

Over 880 Connecticut schools have implemented the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program with assistance from DPH. Tools for Schools provides materials and guidance at no-cost to help schools implement an indoor air quality management program. This simple, inexpensive, team-oriented program focuses on many low-cost or no-cost solutions that address factors that contribute to poor indoor air quality, such as air pollutants or poor ventilation.

According to the EPA, indoor air quality (IAQ) directly impacts student academic performance and health. Better IAQ increases productivity and improves the performance of mental tasks such as concentration and recall in both adults and children.

Poor IAQ can trigger health issues, such as asthma. “Implementing and maintaining the Tools for Schools program is an important part of our overall strategy to reduce the impact of asthma,” stated DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen. “Reducing exposure to asthma triggers such as dust, mold and chemicals in schools is essential to providing a healthy learning environment.”

The Newington school district is just one of many Connecticut districts that have adopted the Tools for Schools program. On Healthy Schools Day, they will hold a refresher workshop which will include training to identify indoor air quality problem sources and a walkthrough investigation exercise. “We applaud the Newington Schools for maintaining their Tools for Schools program,” said Kenny Foscue, DPH Tools for Schools coordinator. “Conducting refresher workshops is a proactive step to keep students and staff healthy by finding and preventing indoor air problems.”

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 – formed a consortium that helps schools train and support Tools for Schools (TfS) committees in identifying and addressing potential or current indoor air problems.

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 8,929 in one school year.

For information about the Tools for Schools Program and how to have it implemented in your school, go to www.ct.gov/dph/schools or call (860) 509-7740.

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.

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