EPA Honors IAQ, Performance Improvement
Novato Unified School District in San Francisco has been honored with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2010 Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools National Excellence Award for its exemplary efforts to improve indoor air quality for students, teachers and staff. NUSD is one of only five school districts in the country to receive this award.
EPA created the IAQ Tools for Schools program nearly 20 years ago in response to studies that revealed the increasing age and deterioration of the nation’s school buildings, the alarming rise in asthma and allergies among schoolchildren, and the knowledge that indoor air pollutants can bring about or even worsen a variety of health problems.
“Novato Unified School District is demonstrating national leadership through its commitment to promote healthy indoor air quality in their community’s schools,” said Mike Flynn, Director of EPA’s Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. “Their work is helping to protect the health and support the performance of students, faculty and staff. We are proud of their valuable efforts, and commend them on this outstanding accomplishment.”
The relationship between indoor air quality and student performance and productivity is clear: research suggests that students attending schools in poor conditions score 11 percent lower on standardized tests than students who attend schools in good conditions. With nearly 55 million children spending their days inside 132,000 public and private school buildings in the United States, managing indoor air quality in schools is a vital part of improving student performance and achievement.
“NUSD is very proud to receive the IAQ Tools for Schools National Excellence Award from EPA. We are very honored to be recognized for the work Marie Chan and Mark Silva, NUSD Director of MOT, and his team have done at our schools. Marie Chan has been the driving force in NUSD to ensure environmental practices are implemented in collaboration with Mark Silva and his maintenance and custodial colleagues. It is a team effort that has created ‘green practices’ to benefit the students, staff and community. I commend Marie, Mark, and the maintenance and custodial team for their exceptional efforts to make a difference in our environment and our schools,” said Dr. Jan La-Torre Derby, Superintendent of the Novato Unified School District.
Novato Unified School District worked with students, teachers and staff to assess and mitigate the needs and issues of facility occupants to improve respiratory health. They have worked to increase filter changes on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems from once per year to three times per year; provided clear instructions to teachers on use of new thermostats; installed walk off mats at every entrance to prevent recirculation of irritating particulates; converted to HEPA filtered vacuum cleaners; and converted the district to all green cleaning supplies in 2008.
In addition, NUSD uses the least toxic methods of pest management; ensures that windows are operational and immediately addresses moisture incursions; gradually removed toxic commercial cleaners from classrooms; and educated students, staff, and parents about the health hazards inherent in fragrances, personal care products, traditional cleaning supplies, and pesticides/herbicides.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study, about half of the nation’s schools now have IAQ management programs in place, up from about one-fourth of schools in 2002 (according to an earlier EPA study). The CDC study also found that 86 percent of schools with IAQ management programs rely on EPA’s IAQ Tools for Schools Program to guide their actions.
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