The Vashon Island School District is among six schools and districts selected nationally to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) 2006 Excellence Award for their efforts to improve indoor air quality in our nation’s schools. EPA research has shown that indoor pollutants in schools can have a variety of associated health risks, including headaches, nausea, respiratory problems and asthma.

The award was presented at a ceremony held today at EPA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. According to Vashon Island School District Superintendent, Dr. Mimi Walker, winning the award was a team effort, led by the Board of Directors.

“Our Vashon Island School Board of Directors has been instrumental in the steps leading up to this award. They have represented this community’s high regard for the environment and supported the changes that have been necessary to insure that our schools are safe, environmentally wise, and operating at the highest energy efficiency levels possible,” said Walker.

As a participant in the King County Green Schools Program, the Vashon Island School District pledged to make environmental gains in the categories of Waste Reduction and Recycling, Water Conservation, Energy Conservation, and Environmental Education and has made measurable strides in each of these areas.

The Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Excellence Award is EPA’s most prestigious award recognizing exemplary indoor air quality programs and commitment to providing a healthy learning environment for students and staff. The Excellence Award Winners are selected from hundreds of schools and districts nationwide who have implemented IAQ management programs and seen improvements in indoor air quality.

In 1995, EPA developed the voluntary IAQ TfS Kit and Program in response to government studies highlighting the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s schools and the alarming rise in asthma cases, particularly among school and preschool age children. Today, one out of every 13 school-age children has asthma. Asthma alone accounts for 14 million missed school days each year. The IAQ TfS Kit is a flexible, comprehensive resource designed to help school staff identify, resolve, and prevent IAQ problems and is available to schools at no cost. Currently, an estimated 26,000 schools and school districts across the country have adopted IAQ management practices consistent with EPA’s guidance.