Federal ‘Marshall Plan’ Needed to Protect Children’s Health and Schools

Federal ‘Marshall Plan’ Needed to Protect Children’s Health and Schools, Groups Say; 'National Healthy Schools Day' April 18

4/18/2005 10:44:00 AM

To: National Desk, Health and Education Reporters

Contact: Claire Barnett of the Healthy Schools Network, 212-482-0204, or Sabrina Jones of the American Public Health Association, 202-777-2509

WASHINGTON, April 18 /U.S. Newswire/ -- School building environmental problems are eroding children’s health and test scores. Parent, public health, environment, and education groups today urged the White House and federal agencies to develop a “ Marshall Plan” to identify and to promote solutions to protect the nation’s schools and the health and safety of schoolchildren. This critical issue deserves an action plan that involves federal awareness and intervention, the groups say.

Each day 54 million schoolchildren and six million adults -— 20 percent of the entire U.S. population -— enter our nation’s school buildings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, one-half of the nation’s schools have problems with indoor air quality, as well as problems with lead, radon, asbestos, chemical spills, molds, and poor lighting.

Healthy Schools Network Executive Director Claire Barnett said, “Today is another un-Healthy School Day, with 54 million children in schools with serious environmental problems that erode children’s health. This is not just a local issue. This is America’s largest, single unaddressed public health problem facing the federal agencies.”

According to the groups, many school facilities have been poorly maintained and thousands of our nation’s schools remain severely overcrowded. These problems contribute to absenteeism, student medication use, learning difficulties, sick building syndrome, staff turnover, and greater liability for school districts.

American Public Health Association’s Executive Director Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP: "It is unconscionable that millions of our nation's children, many of them from low-income households, are surrounded daily by environmental health hazards such as unsafe indoor air, chemicals, asbestos and mold. This is a problem that should be addressed swiftly and thoroughly at the federal level. Adults expect to work in safe buildings, why not children?”

EDITOR'S NOTES: Also quoted: National PTA President Linda Hodge; American Association on Mental Retardation Executive Director Doreen Croser; Center for a New American Dream Executive Director Diane Wood.

See full press release and list of local events in 15 states and cities: //www.healthyschools.org. Also available, national Coalition Position Statement 2005 and list of 300 endorsing organizations; Good News/Bad News in schools around the country.


© 2005 U.S. Newswire 202-347-2770/

Informant: Sylvie


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