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Burlington, Vt. Schools Awarded for Exceptional Indoor Air Quality Program

Release Date: 12/02/2004
Contact Information:

Contact: David Deegan, EPA Press Office, (617) 918-1017

For Immediate Release: December 2, 2004; Release # dd04-11-10

BOSTON -- Burlington's School District received a national award for its work improving air quality throughout the school system. The public school district was one of two New England school districts, and 12 nationally, to receive the prestigious "Tools for Schools" award at a Washington, D.C. ceremony today.

EPA's "Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Excellence Award" recognizes exemplary indoor air quality programs that are committed to providing a healthy environment for students and staff. Burlington was recognized for successfully using the Tools for Schools program to improve air quality and raise awareness about air quality issues. The remarkable success of Burlington's program has been seen in a drop in the one school's annual absenteeism rates among asthmatic students from 31 days to 2 days in just one year.

"Burlington's work has improved the indoor air environment at the community's schools," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "This district stands out among a select group of school districts that use this effective indoor air quality program."

"Children spend a significant amount of time in schools," commented Jeff Holmstead, EPA's assistant administrator for national air programs, who presented the award during the fifth annual Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools National Symposium. "We want to ensure that our nation's schools are free of indoor environmental pollutants and irritants that may affect the health and productivity of students and staff."

In 1995, EPA developed the voluntary Tools for School 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.

Today, New England has some of the highest asthma rates in the nation, with every state reporting a childhood asthma rate of 10 percent or higher. In Vermont, 10.8 percent of the children suffer from asthma. The free Tools for Schools kit is designed to help school staff identify, resolve, and prevent indoor air quality problems. About 10,000 schools and school districts across the country use this program.

The Burlington School District has overcome a tight budget and aging facilities to become a statewide leader in promoting good indoor air quality. The district, with support from the state Department of Health ENVISION program and EPA New England, put in place an anti-idling policy. By working closely with vendors, it was able to solve indoor air quality problems created at loading docks at two schools. The district used grants to purchase high-quality filters for vacuum cleaners to reduce air born contaminants and to make improvements in several school heating and ventilation systems. A new indoor air quality emergency response system lets school or community members report indoor air concerns by writing a simple ticket that is then sent through a detailed tracking system that allows the district to respond quickly.

More information about EPA's Tools for Schools Program is available at:

Related Information:
Indoor Air
Tools for Schools