Wednesday, October 5, 2011

US EPA Releases New Guidelines for Safer Schools

News from the Center for Health, Environment & Justice,

First-ever federal school siting guidelines hit the street

Monday, October 3. The Environmental Protection Agency released its voluntary School Siting Guidelines. Now school districts can look toward a federal policy model for guidance when constructing a new school facility.

For a decade, CHEJ has been working with concerned parents’ groups, teachers’ unions and community groups to address a range of toxic hazards facing schools in America. Thousands of schools are located near toxic waste sites or major sources of air pollution, such as chemical plants or incinerators. A 2002 study by CHEJ of just five states identified more than 1,100 schools within a half mile of a contaminated site, negatively affecting the health of more than 600,000 students.

The final release of the guidelines marks a milestone for safer schools, but much remains to be done. Many states still have no laws that restrict the building of schools near serious environmental hazards. CHEJ will be working with groups in New York and elsewhere to adopt toxic-free school zone policies and to educate school boards and other officials so they make better decisions about locating new schools. The guidelines are a strong tool in our fight to protect children’s environmental health. Congratulations to everyone who worked toward this victory!

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