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EPA Selects Portland Oregon School District for 2006 “Tools for Schools” Excellence Award
Release Date: 12/05/2006
Contact Information: Susan Titus, EPA, (206) 553-1189, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tony Brown, EPA, (206) 553-1203, email@example.com, Patrick Wolfe, PPS, (503) 916-3449, firstname.lastname@example.org
(Portland, Ore. Dec. 5, 2006) -- The Portland Public School District is among three school districts selected to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) 2006 Excellence Award for their efforts to improve indoor air quality in our nation’s schools. According to EPA, indoor pollutants in schools can be associated with a variety of health risks, including headaches, nausea, respiratory problems and asthma. Portland Public Schools (PPS) will be recognized for establishing a centralized indoor air quality (IAQ) program at the 7th National IAQ Tool for Schools Symposium in Washington, D.C., December 7–9, 2006.
"We're proud of Health & Safety for developing this program but it's really a team effort. IAQ management works when administrators, teachers and facilities personnel collaborate," said Pam Brown, Director of Facilities and Asset Management for PPS.”
The IAQ TfS Excellence Award recognizes exemplary indoor air quality programs and commitment to providing a healthy learning environment for students and staff. The Excellence Award Winners are selected from hundreds of schools and districts nationwide who have implemented IAQ management programs and seen improvements in indoor air quality.
EPA developed the voluntary IAQ TfS Program in response to government studies highlighting the deteriorating conditions of the nation’s schools and the alarming rise in asthma cases, particularly among school and preschool age children. Asthma alone accounts for 14 million missed school days each year. Nearly 30,000 schools across the country have adopted IAQ management practices consistent with EPA guidance.
“Millions of Americans spend the better part of their days in public schools,” said Tom Kelly, Director of EPA’s Indoor Environments Division. “Improving air quality in schools is an important way to improve both educational performance and public health. We are delighted to shine the spotlight of recognition on Portland Public School District. Leaders there are doing the right thing, and other schools can follow their example.”
PPS began using elements of the IAQ TfS program in 1998 and fully implemented TfS after one of PPS’ middle schools was closed in 2002 due to radon and mold problems. PPS established a centralized indoor air quality (IAQ) program, focusing on outreach to staff on available IAQ services, developing a sophisticated IAQ management information system and a standard procedure for responding to IAQ events, ensuring that parents or teachers who file IAQ complaints are informed of the resolution of the problem. PPS recorded a 43 percent decrease in the number of IAQ complaints from 2004-2005 to 2005-2006, and despite reductions to the facilities budget, PPS continues to prioritize all IAQ-related repairs. This ensures IAQ repairs are addressed within five days. To regain the community and staff’s trust and broaden awareness of IAQ, the health and safety department uses the school safety committee as the “hub” for IAQ management activities. Now, many schools use their safety committee to conduct IAQ walkthroughs each quarter. PPS actively promotes its IAQ program’s services, gives presentations on IAQ at teacher union meetings and school safety committee meetings, and has developed an IAQ handbook it posts on the Web and provides to union representatives, principals, and administrative assistants.
For more information about the EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program, visit www.epa.gov/iaq/schools.
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