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Release Date: 08/08/2002
Contact Information: Wesley Lambert, EPA Media Relations, 404-562-8316
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced today that Jefferson County Public Schools has been selected as an Indoor Air Quality-Tools for Schools Excellence Award winner. It is one of three schools/school districts in the southeast (twenty-one nationally) selected for exemplary support and implementation of EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) program to improve indoor air quality. The other two winners in the southeast are Williamson County School District, Franklin, Tennessee and Buist Academy for Advanced Studies, Charleston, South Carolina.

Jefferson County Public Schools is an IAQ TfS leader and mentor for other schools in the surrounding community. Developing a proactive approach to managing IAQ district-wide, it took steps to improve knowledge, communications, and teamwork. Using the information provided in the IAQ TfS Kit, the district offers training for team building and problem solving skills focused on effectively managing and preventing IAQ problems. Team members conduct weekly walkthroughs in all schools, implement an integrated pest management program, conduct routine radon testing and mitigation, and regularly monitor airflow. These efforts have led to concrete resultsCstudent attendance rates and test scores are rising and there are fewer complaints about IAQ issues. The district's other outreach efforts include serving on various organization boards, participating in school and organization meetings, and encouraging other school districts to adopt good IAQ practices.

The awards were presented to school district representatives on Thursday, August 8, 2002 at EPA's 3rd annual IAQ Tools for Schools National Symposium in Washington, D.C. The Symposium brings school officials, nurses, teachers, facility managers, parents and others together to raise awareness about indoor air quality and the potential negative effect that poor indoor air quality can have on children's health.

Children spend an average of eight hours a day in school. Pollutants inside classrooms and other indoor school facilities are often 2-5 times higher than outdoor levels and can trigger asthma attacks. Asthma in young children has risen by nearly 60 percent in the last 15 years and is responsible for 10 million missed school days per year.

IAQ Tools for Schools is a nationwide initiative to help school officials assess, resolve, and prevent indoor air quality problems and reduce exposure to asthma triggers in school facilities. Available to schools at no cost, the IAQ Tools for Schools kit shows schools how to improve indoor air problems at little cost by using simple activities and existing schools staff.