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Students Can Breathe Heavy Sigh of Relief

Release Date: 12/07/2006
Contact Information: Roxanne Smith, (202) 564-4355 / smith.roxanne@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C. - Dec. 7, 2006) No, it's not less homework, it's better indoor air quality. With more than 53 million children spending a significant portion of their days in 120,000 public and private schools, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with schools to improve indoor air quality. EPA presented the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools national awards to schools and school districts that have exemplary indoor air quality management programs. Poor indoor air quality can pose health risks in schools for both students and staff, causing asthma attacks, decreased performance and diminished concentration.

"Schools that have indoor air quality management programs see improvements in student health," said Bill Wehrum, EPA's acting assistant administrator of Air and Radiation. "These award-winning schools have tackled tough issues and put in place great programs to resolve and prevent indoor environmental risks. I congratulate them on making remarkable progress toward safer and healthier learning environments."

At the Tools for Schools national symposium, EPA presented the 2006 Model of Sustained Excellence Award to four school districts for their enduring exemplary efforts to improve indoor air quality in our nation's schools. The Model of Sustained Excellence Award winners are Westborough Public Schools, Westborough, Mass.; Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, Ky.; Saugus Unified School District, Santa Clarita, Calif.; and Visalia Unified School District, Visalia, Calif.

EPA also presented the Excellence Award, which recognizes comprehensive programs that include activities ranging from designing a new school building free of toxins and other hazards to developing district-wide policies for continuous training and maintenance. The 2006 Excellence Award winners are Amity Regional School District No. 5, Woodbridge, Conn.; Omaha Public Schools, Omaha, Neb.; and Portland Public Schools, Portland, Ore.

Since the creation of the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools
program, nearly 30,000 schools across the country have adopted indoor air quality management programs consistent with EPA guidance. The program promotes indoor air quality management, facility planning and maintenance, and effective communications and teaches schools how to identify, resolve, and prevent indoor air quality problems through low and no-cost measures.

Information on Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Excellence Awards: epa.gov/iaq/schools/tfsawards2006.html