FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Connecticut Department of Public Health
May 15, 2008 Contacts: William Gerrish
Hartford -- The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) recommends that all Connecticut schools participate in the “Tools for Schools” program, a national program with demonstrated success in reducing exposures to indoor environmental contaminants in schools through the voluntary adoption of sound indoor air quality management practices. A regional meeting on building and sustaining a successful “Tools for Schools” program will be held on Thursday, May 22, 2008 at Miller Library in Hamden.
“The average Connecticut public school student spends 1,000 hours each year in the classroom,” stated Governor M. Jodi Rell. “For students and staff with asthma, good indoor air quality is an essential part of preventing an asthma attack. The Tools for Schools program can help ensure a healthy environment for all students, particularly those with asthma.”
For over 700 schools in 130 Connecticut school districts, the answer to better indoor air quality has been the implementation of the EPA Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program, administered in Connecticut by the Department of Public Health. This simple, inexpensive, team-oriented way to improve school indoor air quality calls upon administrators, parents, school nurses, teachers and custodians to act as a collaborative team, investigating and prioritizing indoor air hazards in their facilities. The team then develops short and long-term strategies to help solve these problems.
Source removal is a prime component of the Tools for Schools program. “Source removal is the most effective – and least expensive – action a school system can take to improve indoor air quality,” stated DPH Commissioner J. Robert Galvin, M. D., M. P. H., M. B. A. “Making a greater effort to remove dust from schools is just one of the many simple ways that people can improve school air quality, thereby contributing to a more favorable learning environment for students, and better productivity for students and staff.”
During the past several years, the Tools for Schools program has demonstrated its effectiveness in several Connecticut school districts. These successes include:
ü Chester school district, which saw the number of asthma-related health office visits decrease dramatically;
ü Hartford school district, where the number of asthma-related incidents declined from 11,334 to 8929 in one school year after the Tools for Schools program was implemented at the majority of the district’s public schools;
ü Waterford school district, where one elementary school that implemented the program experienced a 74% reduction in the number of indoor air quality health complaints;
ü Hamden school district, where absenteeism cut by more than half since the implementation of an active Tools for Schools program;
ü North Haven school districts, which documented a decrease of 48% in number of reported cases of respiratory-related illnesses;
Improvements to school buildings in these districts included replacing carpet with tile, elimination of area rugs, repair of leaking pipes, new roofs and roof repairs, and improved cleaning protocols.
During the month of May, the DPH recognizes Asthma Awareness Month and asks Connecticut residents to become educated about asthma, including how to manage this serious, chronic disease.
“Asthma can be managed, but it takes a joint effort between the person with asthma, his or her family, their health care provider, and individuals in the work, school and community environments. By working together, it can be done,” stated Dr. Galvin. “The Tools for Schools program is just one way we can work to actively eliminate the triggers that have been known to cause asthma in our public schools.”
The Connecticut School Indoor Environment Resource Team, a statewide consortium led by DPH, has worked to assist schools to implement the Tools for Schools program. Members include the Connecticut Department of Labor/CONNOSHA, the Connecticut Education Association, EPA Region I, American Lung Association, the Yale and UCONN Environmental and Occupational Medicine Program, the Connecticut School Building and Grounds Association and others.
The regional meeting, sponsored by the Connecticut School Indoor Environment Resource Team, the Quinnipiack Valley Health District, and the Amity School District, will be held at Miller Library in Hamden on May 22, 2008 from 1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. The program will include a case study presentation as well as successes and hardships for programs throughout the state. School administrators and staff, local health professionals, and interested parents are encouraged to attend. For more information on the regional meeting, please contact Kenny Foscue or Joan Simpson of DPH at (860) 509-7740 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on Tools for Schools, or on asthma, please visit http://www.ct.gov/dph/ and click on “Programs and Services” and then Asthma.
The Connecticut Department of Public Health is the state’s leader in public health policy and advocacy with a mission to protect and promote the health and safety of the people of our state. To contact the department, please visit its website at www.ct.gov/dph or call (860) 509-7270.