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U.S. EPA Applauds Fresno Teachers and School District for Commitment to Indoor Air Quality in Schools

Release Date: 11/14/2002
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, U.S. EPA, (415) 947-4307

     SAN FRANCISCO   Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency applauded the Fresno Teachers Association and the Fresno Unified School District for their district-wide commitment towards improving and protecting air quality in Fresno Schools by adopting the EPA's indoor air quality Tools for Schools program.  

      One hundred and fifty Fresno schools teachers, staff and nurses participated in an EPA-sponsored day-long indoor air quality Tools for Schools training workshop today at Bullard High School.  A memorandum agreement was signed by the EPA, the FTA and FUSD which outlines the goal of assuring the best achievable indoor air quality in Fresno schools by implementing the voluntary program.  A "Great Start" certificate awarded to both the teachers and the district by the EPA marked the kick-off of the Tools for Schools program in the district's 99 schools and nearly 4,000 classrooms.
 
     "This is a great partnership by the Fresno Teachers Association and the Fresno Unified School District to improve schools' indoor air," said Jack Broadbent, EPA's air division director for the Pacific Southwest region.  "Working together to implement the Tools for Schools program I'm confident the teachers and the district will improve classroom air quality creating a better teaching and learning environment for Fresno's children."

     "After working almost two years on improving classroom air quality, the Fresno Teachers Association is extremely pleased that the EPA saw Fresno's need and agreed to work with FTA to make this program a reality," said FTA President Sherry Wood. "There is an ongoing commitment from FTA's 4,600 teacher, nurse, librarian and speech therapist members to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment for our students and we ask the community to join FTA in making that commitment to our children."

     "We are committed to our focus of ensuring maximum health and safety for our students and staff and have been a statewide leader in environmental issues related to schools," said Santiago Wood, FUSD Superintendent, "The Valley's air quality is a huge challenge and our children are most susceptible to long-term exposure to polluted air.  Monitoring our indoor air quality through the Tools for Schools program is an important measure in ensuring the best learning environment."

      Nationally, 10 million school days are lost each year due to asthma. The Fresno Unified School District is the fourth largest in the state educating 82,000 students.  The Tools for Schools program helps teachers and staff identify environmental asthma triggers within classrooms and the low-cost steps that can improve indoor air quality in schools to prevent future problems.

     Indoor air quality expert, Dr. Richard Shaughnessy, University of Tulsa, led the day's session by introducing the audience to the problems associated with poor indoor air quality and the practical solutions to maintaining a healthy environment in the classroom.  

     Typical findings from a school indoor air quality walk-through include:
     - artwork covering thermostats
     - improperly operating ventilation systems
     - roof leaks
     - classroom arrangements that make custodial work difficult
     - carpeting in areas that cannot be properly maintained
     - overzealous carpet cleaning resulting in soaked carpets and padding and potential mold growth.

     Today's training will provide teachers and staff with the tools to identify and minimize potential air quality problems in the classroom and a system for reporting them.

    To learn more about the EPA's Tools for Schools program visit the agency's website at: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/schools/index.html .

     For more information regarding indoor air quality at home visit:
http://www.epa.gov/iaq/homes/index.html .

     Or contact the EPA's Tools for Schools coordinator, Shelly Rosenblum at (415) 947-4193 or you can email questions to: rosenblum.shelly@epa.gov

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