Not that long ago there seemed to be scant attention paid to the issue of children’s exposure to chemicals and toxins while at school. Desks and chairs were cleaned with industrial-strength cleaners, and floors were mopped with detergent strong enough to wash away the grime and grease caused by hundreds of young feet tromping through the halls five days a week – standards and guidelines concerning the safety of the cleaning products used around children were based on the findings of studies available at the time.
We now know more about the impact that chemicals and solvents can have on the environment and on the people who come in contact with that environment. This growing awareness has spurred a move toward making schools greener and safer for our kids.
Today there are more options available of safe cleaning products and chemicals that can be used in schools, and there are more schools that are using them. However, an increase in severe allergic reactions by children at school to chemical and environmental toxins has pushed parents to ask hard questions about the eco-friendly standards and practices in place at our Nation’s schools.
In response to those questions, the EPA has listed resources and links in a variety of environmental health and safety topics on their website. For instance, a question regarding the cleaners and pesticides used in schools offers these links:
Clicking on the links will take you directly to answers on the respective topics. The “Safer Cleaning Products for Schools” link directs you to choose a category of cleaner, as in carpet cleaning or sink and restroom cleaning, and then gives you a drop-down choice of the companies they contract with to supply those specific products. If you’re a parent, this access to information is incredibly valuable when investigating the environmental safety of your child’s school.
There is no doubt that more work needs to be done with regard to green practices in our Nation’s schools. The safety and health of our children while at school needs to be top priority.