Assemblymember Steven Englebright (D, Setauket) applauded the national designation of April 26, 2010 as National Healthy Schools Day and April 26 - 30, 2010 as Healthy School Buildings Week.
Assemblymember Englebright stated “In the U.S. there are 55 million children and 7 million adults in the nation’s 125,000 K-12 schools. Many schools suffer from polluted indoor air, due to factors such as poor construction or ventilation, use of hazardous materials indoors, inadequate sanitation, siting near hazards such as waste sites, and misuse of pesticides and other toxic chemicals.”
A report “Sick Schools 2009 – America’s Continuing Environmental Health Crisis for Children”, compiled by more than 35 groups nationally provides state profiles on schools. The New York State profile reports that there are more than 2.8 million children in New York schools - almost half of these children are minority students; and more than 370,000 employees in the school system.
Dr. Philip Landrigan, Pediatrician and Director, Children’s Environmental Health Center, Mt Sinai Medical Center stated “Schools are where New York’s children learn, play and become our future. It is critical that school environments across New York are safe and healthful so that children can learn and grow without fear of chemical hazards.”
Stephen Boese, Executive Director, Learning Disabilities Association of NYS (LDANYS) stated “The LDANYS congratulates Assemblyman Steven Englebright and Senator James Alesi once again for their steadfast advocacy of providing children with the healthiest possible schools and communities. One in seven children has a learning disability and our schools should not cause nor contribute to their challenges.”
Claire Barnett, Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc. stated “We are grateful to Assemblyman Englebright and Senator Alesi for their strong support of healthier schools for all children and all personnel. And we thank our national partners such as EPA, the Federal Centers for Disease Control and the Council of Educational Facilities Planners for joining with us to promote healthy indoor air in schools. Healthy indoor air in schools is a civil rights and justice issue. Breathable air should never be on the menu of optional benefits.”
Englebright noted, “Although NYS has laws and regulations requiring Indoor Air Quality and Integrated Pest Management programs, as well as the use of certified green cleaning products, these policies are not being implemented in the majority of schools.”
A 2009 survey by the New York State Department of Health reported that
- 99% of schools reported dust or reservoirs of dust in classrooms;
- 84% reported mold or moisture problems; and
- 42% reported potential exposure to diesel exhaust.
Englebright concluded “As we struggle with the budget process, we must keep in mind our obligation to ensure that schools are healthy and environmentally-safe places for our children to learn and grow. Ultimately our future relies on the health of the children inheriting it.”