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Bellingham Schools Clear the Air for Student Health

Release Date: 12/04/2008
Contact Information: Mike Anderson, Bellingham School District, 360.676.6548, manders@bham.wednet.edu; Tony Brown, EPA Public Affairs, 206.553-1203, brown.anthony@epa.gov

(Seattle, Wash. - December 4, 2008) The Bellingham School District has been honored with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2008 Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Model of Sustained Excellence Award for its exemplary efforts to improve indoor air quality for students, teachers, and staff.

“The Bellingham School District is demonstrating national leadership through its commitment to promote good indoor air quality in their community’s schools,” said Elizabeth Cotsworth, Director of EPA’s Office of Radiation and Indoor Air. “Their work is helping to protect the health of students, faculty, and staff. We are proud of their valuable efforts, and commend them on this outstanding accomplishment”

The Bellingham School District has established an air quality baseline at all its sites and set in place a communication process where indoor air concerns can be easily expressed, responded to quickly and talked about openly and clearly. The district has also committed a portion of its manpower and budget to research, training and needed equipment to continue and improve its indoor air efforts into the future.

Mike Anderson, Bellingham School District’s Manager of Buildings and Grounds, comments “We are so proud that our efforts are recognized as it confirms the progress we’ve made creating and maintaining safe and healthy indoor environments for the public, our staff and students. The evidence that indoor air quality directly and positively affects teacher effectiveness and student achievement makes this success all the more rewarding.”

“Region 10 is fortunate to have Mike and the other members of the team at Bellingham,” said Davis Zhen, EPA’s Radon & Indoor Air Program Coordinator in Seattle. “They are leaders in the area, they adapted an indoor air quality program early, and now they mentor others.”

The Tools for Schools Model of Sustained Excellence award recognizes schools that have demonstrated an enduring commitment to student and staff health and wellness by building, evaluating, sustaining, and institutionalizing robust and highly effective school indoor air quality management programs. Only 10 schools or school districts in the nation have received this award since its inception in 2005.

EPA created the Tools for Schools Program in response to studies drawing attention to the range of indoor air quality and related problems in school buildings, the alarming rise in asthma and allergies among schoolchildren, and the knowledge that indoor air pollutants can bring about a variety of health effects, from respiratory problems to headaches and nausea. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, half of the nation’s elementary and secondary school facilities have indoor air quality management programs, and 85 percent of those schools base their programs on the EPA’s proven Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools approach.

The award will be presented Thursday, December 4, 2008, at the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium at the Grand Hyatt in Washington, D.C. The Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools awards program was initiated to recognize schools and school districts that have demonstrated a strong commitment to improving children’s health by promoting good indoor air quality. EPA provides a series of tiered national-level awards for a broad range of indoor air quality management programs in schools and school districts, from those just beginning to implement comprehensive indoor air quality management all the way to those who have mature, sustainable, district-wide indoor air quality programs.

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For more information about the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program, visit www.epa.gov/iaq/schools