5 Ways To Clean Up The Air At School

Line of school buses

The stores, the TV, the magazines, and my email Inbox all tell me, it’s back to school time. I have been pretending that it isn’t really happening because I know, as a teacher, once I go back, I hit the ground running, and don’t look up until November. And for me, that’s tomorrow!

In my many roles as a teacher, blogger, and clean air activist, I offer some back to school tips for how to give your child the cleanest, and healthiest air possible in school. Indoor air quality can be very poor in schools due to lack of ventilation and because many are old structures. And as we know, schools can be sited in industrial areas with extensive air pollution. What can concerned parents do?

5 Ways To Clean Up The Air At Your Child’s School

  1. Investigate – Begin checking out what kind of cleaners are used in your child’s classroom. If they are conventional industrial cleaners, they likely contain harmful chemicals that could be damaging to your child’s lungs, especially if they are already sensitive. Often, schools use these because they don’t know they are harmful. Their plan is to kill nasty viruses that pop up in schools.
  2. Exchange Cleaners – If your child’s school is using toxic cleaners, check in with their teacher. If possible, bring in a few non-toxic cleaners such as those made by Seventh Generation. Offer to replace what the teacher is using in the classroom with a cleaner, safer option. Need some resource material about why conventional cleaners are harmful? Please visit this report by the Environmental Working Group. This report outlines how conventional cleaners are linked to cancer and asthma. EWG also provides ways to can engage with schools to convert to greener, safer cleaning products.
  3. Go bigger – On your next meeting with the school nurse, share your concerns about toxic products being used in the school, such as cleaners, strong dry erase markers and white board cleaners. Offer to replace these or help the nurse develop a policy or proposal about cleaning the school’s air. Nurses are a great ally – they want clean air in schools because it means healthier kids! If your nurse isn’t receptive, you can meet with the principal to share your concerns and develop a plan. Need resources? Check out this guide, plan, and steps for schools.
  4. No idling – Make sure there is a no idling policy at your school. Why? Idling cars produce damaging and avoidable air pollution. The fumes from cars idling can aggravate asthma, cause coughing or difficult breathing, decrease lung function, exacerbate cardiovascular problems and lead to chronic bronchitis. Visit this link to find out how you can start a no idling campaign at your school (it’s not that hard!).
  5. Is big industry nearby? – Ask if the school has had the air quality surrounding the school tested. Research what measures are being taken to reduce air pollution at the plant or industrial site. Visit Childproofing Our Communities for resources and to help organize people in your community. Join the Moms Clean Air Force to fight for clean air in the legislative arena, and share your story with us.

This is just the beginning of the conversation about how to clean the air inside and outside of our nation’s schools. Have a great start to the school year!

Please post your thoughts, questions and comments about the issue of school air below.


Photo: tncountryfan via Flickr

This post was included in the Green Moms Back To School Carnival on Mindful Momma!

TOPICS: Pollution