Two Schools Honored For Model Green Cleaning Programs
Grassroots Environmental Education, a New York environmental health non-profit organization, has recognized two Long Island school districts with Excellence in Environmental Health awards. The awards, issued in cooperation with the New York State United Teachers and the New York State PTA under a grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, recognized the efforts of Pat Pizzo (East Meadow) and Monty Granger (Wyandanch) to ensure the safety and health of students in their schools through the use of non-toxic, bio-based cleaning products
"These schools are setting a great example for schools across New York State and beyond," says Patricia Wood, Executive Director of Grassroots. "Pat and Monty and their teams are proving that any school can become an environmentally safe place for students, teachers and staff. We are proud to recognize them for their outstanding efforts."
Grassroots is the creator of The ChildSafe School, a voluntary national program aimed at improving the environmental quality of schools. The science-based program, which includes educational fact sheets, informational videos and sample school policies, is designed to help school officials develop and maintain policies that protect children from exposures known to be hazardous to their health. In addition to cleaning chemicals, the program identifies turf pesticides, diesel exhaust, synthetic turf, wireless radiation and fragrances as potential health hazards.
"School is a child's workplace," says Wood, a recent recipient of a Children's Environmental Health Excellence Award from the EPA in Washington, DC. "Children spend up to eight hours a day, five days a week, in the school environment. Chronic, low-level exposures to many petroleum-based chemicals are much more harmful than we previously understood, and kids depend on us to protect them. That's the underlying purpose of the ChildSafe School program."
“Experience has shown that implementing sustainable practices like green cleaning not only reduces environmental impact, but can save money,” says Charles Ruffing, Director of New York State Pollution Institute. “We applaud these schools on their efforts to meet and exceed regulatory standards and successfully reduce the use of hazardous chemicals within their districts.”
"I’m just not comfortable using a substance that has any level of toxicity around our children," says Mr. Pizzo, who has recently been named Assistant to the Superintendent for Administration and Special Projects in the East Meadow Schools, the third-largest school district in New York State. The East Meadow green cleaning program has been in place for about seven years. "We don’t look at petroleum-based products as being necessary or really even useful," he says. "We have found better products that are bio-based and that’s what we prefer."
Nearby, the Wyandanch Public School system serves a diverse and economically challenged community. Through the efforts of Mr. Granger, and with strong support from the administration, the school has completed a transition to completely safe cleaning products.
According to Mr. Granger, it's a good feeling to protect the health and safety of all the occupants of the Wyandanch schools. "I love working here in Wyandanch," says Mr. Granger. "Every day, I can do good."
More information about the ChildSafe School is available on the program website, www.ChildSafeSchool.org.