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U.S. EPA presents Mt. Whitney High School student national air quality award

Release Date: 11/13/2003
Contact Information: Lisa Fasano, US EPA, cell (415) 760-5421

SAN FRANCISCO - Wayne Nastri, regional administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, today presented Mt. Whitney High School senior Emily Fulmer a National Excellence Award for improving indoor air quality using the EPA "Tools for Schools" program.

Fulmer, along with classmates Aaron Drake and Chelsea Nycum, received national recognition for founding the school's Applied Environmental Science Working Group and introducing the Tools for Schools program to students and teachers.

Additionally, Nastri presented a school-wide Tools for School award to Henry Pasquini, Principal of Mt. Whitney High School.

"These students have taken the EPA's Tool's for Schools program and shown how it can not only benefit their school, but the entire district," said Nastri "The challenging Central Valley air problem will benefit from these kinds of innovative efforts by everyone."

"Tools for Schools is a tremendous value to us providing a healthy and safe learning and working environment for the students and staff of Visalia Unified School District," said Mark Fulmer, assistant superintendent Visalia Unified School District. "The support provided by EPA staff has enabled us to implement a comprehensive program serving all schools in the District."

Mold, mildew, dust, animal dander, radon, secondhand smoke, asbestos, and formaldehyde can affect indoor air quality and trigger various allergies and asthma. Asthma alone accounts for 14 million missed school days each year. The rate of asthma in young children has risen by 160 percent in the last 15 years, and today one out of every 13 school age children has asthma.

The EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools kit is a voluntary program teachers, administrators and students can use to evaluate and indoor air quality. The program is a comprehensive resource that can help schools maintain a healthy environment in buildings, by identifying, correcting, and preventing indoor air quality problems. Nearly 56 million people in the United States spend their day in our nation's elementary and secondary schools. According to the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics in 1999, 43 percent of American schools--about 33,800--reported at least one unsatisfactory environmental condition.

Since the creation of the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools program, more than 10,000 schools across the country have voluntarily become involved. The program teaches schools how to identify, resolve, and prevent indoor air quality problems through low- and no-cost measures. The program explains indoor air quality management, facility planning and maintenance, financing, communications, and emergency response. The kit also includes easy-to-use checklists for all school personnel, sample management plans, and a unique indoor air problem solving wheel.