Sources of Chemicals in Schools
Chemicals are used throughout any school system. They are used in both the maintenance of schools and the curriculum taught. High schools (including vocational schools) usually have larger inventories and more hazardous chemicals than middle and elementary schools, but it is important to recognize the presence of chemicals in these schools as well. Hazardous chemicals are found in science classes, labs, and storerooms; art classes (such as photography, painting, or ceramics) and storerooms; shop classes and storerooms; and facility maintenance activities (such as pest control, repairs, or cleaning), areas, and storerooms.
Featured Sources of Chemicals in Schools Resources:
PCBs in Building Caulk
In recent years, EPA has learned that caulk containing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was used in some buildings, including schools, in the 1950s through the 1970s. Buildings built after 1980 are less likely to contain caulk that contains PCBs.
Caulk is a flexible material used to seal gaps to make windows, masonry and joints in buildings and other structures watertight or airtight. EPA does not have information on the extent of the use of PCB-containing caulk or whether it was primarily used in certain geographic areas. To date it has been found in buildings in the northeastern United States and in joints in concrete water storage basins in the western United States.
Source: EPA - Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
Lead in Paint, Dust, and Soil
This page provides information on hazards associated with lead, training, brochures, and links to regional sources.
Source: EPA - National Lead Information Center
Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT)
HealthySEAT is a new software tool from EPA designed to help school districts conduct voluntary, customized self-assessments of their school facilities for environmental, health, and safety hazards.
Source: EPA - Office of Air and Radiation - Indoor Environments Division
Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Improving Environmental Conditions in MA Schools
This website provides links to a variety of web resources that address how to improve the school environment. Topics such as facilities management (including a wide range of environmental, health and safety issues), hazardous waste site impacts on schools, transportation, and waste reduction and recycling are addressed.
Source: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Environmental Health and Safety in the Arts
This environmental health and safety manual covers art education and production. This manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
Environmental Compliance and Best Management Practices Guidance Manual
This comprehensive environmental manual is available on-line in both English and Spanish.
Source: EPA - Region 2
EPA Mercury Website
This mercury site provides a broad range of information: actions by EPA and others, including international actions; effects on people and the environment; and how to protect you and your family.
Source: EPA - Office of Solid Waste - Office of Solid Waste
Reducing Pesticide Exposure at Schools
This September 2007 publication from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and health explains how exposures and potential health risks to children and school staff can be reduced by avoiding routine pesticide applications through an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program.
Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
LEED for Schools
The LEED for Schools Rating System recognizes the unique nature of the design and construction of K-12 schools. Based on the LEED for New Construction rating system, it addresses issues such as classroom acoustics, master planning, mold prevention and environmental site assessment.
Source: U.S. Green Building Council
Green Cleaning Pollution Prevention Calculator
This calculator quantifies the projected environmental benefits of purchasing and using "green" janitorial services and products. It is designed to forecast the environmental benefits of reducing chemical use by doing some or all pollution prevention measures typically involved in the routine interior cleaning of an office building. This tool also enables users to identify which green cleaning measures will have the greatest impact in reducing their use of hazardous chemicals and in preventing pollution.
Source: EPA - Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics
Cleaning for Healthy Schools Toolkit
Free online toolkit developed, peer-reviewed, field-tested in ten states, and sponsored by the Collaborative on Green Cleaning in Schools.
Source: Green Cleaning for Healthy Schools
New Hampshire Healthy School Environments
This website provides links to resources to help schools assess and address health, safety and environmental issues in school buildings. Both a fact sheet on NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) efforts to customize EPA's HealthySEAT , as well as New Hampshire customization of the software may be downloaded from this site.
Source: New Hampshire Department of Envrionmental Services Air Resources Division - Air Resources Division
Safe Lab: School Chemistry Laboratory Safety Guide
The document provides teachers, and ultimately their students, with information
so that they can take the appropriate precautionary actions in order to prevent or minimize hazards, harmful exposures, and injuries in the laboratory.
Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission & NIOSH
Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Walkthrough Video Assessment
This is a streaming-video module directed towards schools in city environments. The purpose is to help people identify potential indoor air quality problems and how to correct them. Based on EPA's Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program.
Source: Rutgers University
Mercury Assesment for Schools & Communities
This checklist is designed to assist in identifying and locating mercury-containing products and equipment in schools. These products are typically found in the following areas: Science Labs, Facilities, Medical Offices, Home Economics and Art Classrooms.
Source: The Northeast Waste Management Officials' Association (NEWMOA)
Montana Department of Environmental Quality School Labs Website
Montana DEQ's website provides information to help schools evaluate their chemical management (including safety procedures for conducting inventories, a suggested chemical inventory list, information about historical trainings held in the state, and photos illustrating poor chemical management). Results of a 2004 statewide inventory are also posted on this site.
Source: Montana Department of Environmental Quality
Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign
Every year, hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on school incidents involving chemicals such as spills and fires. These incidents involve potentially dangerous chemicals which, in some cases, had been unused for more than thirty years. In addition to financial costs, these spills may also cause school closures that result in a loss of valuable education time. The Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3) seeks to address this issue by not only cleaning out excess, legacy, unused, and improperly stored chemicals but also by going a step further and implementing preventive mechanisms in schools.
Source: EPA-Office of Solid Waste
California Portable Classrooms Study
The Air Resources Board (ARB) and Department of Health Services (DHS) completed a comprehensive study of the environmental health conditions in portable (relocatable) classrooms. This study investigated classrooms in kindergarten through 12th grade public schools and included a large representative sample.
Source: California Air Resources Board
Green Clean Schools
Healthy Schools Campaign has published the first-ever multimedia how-to guide to help schools adopt cleaning programs that encourage the use of green products, equipment and practices in schools.
Source: Healthy Schools Campaign
An introduction to toxic chemicals and environmental health risks you might encounter in everyday life, in everyday places, including schools.
Source: National Institutes of Health - National Library of Medicine
New Hampshire Pollution Prevention in Schools Project
New Hampshire's Department of Environmental Services/Pollution Prevention Program has been providing outreach to NH schools re: proper chemical management. This web site provides information about that program, and provides links to fact sheets on topics such as laboratory chemical management and guidance on eliminating mercury from schools.
Source: New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services - Pollution Prevention Program
Tennessee School Lab Chemical Cleanout Campaign
The primary goals of the TN progam are to remove potentially dangerous chemicals from schools, while educating teachers and students about proper chemical management, lab safety, greener teaching options, and chemical waste disposal. This is a two-year program, funded largely by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
Source: Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation's Division of Community Assistance - Tennessee Pollution Prevention Partnership
Massachusetts --A Case Study of Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues Involving the Burlington Massachusetts Public School System
This Web site provides a case study of Environmental, Health, and Safety issues in the Burlington, MA public school system.
Source: EPA Region 7 - Burlington Board of Health
California - Los Angeles Unified School District Product Review Database
Searchable database of over 5,000 products evaluated by the LAUSD Office of Environmental Health and Safety to determine their suitability for use in and around Los Angeles schools.
Source: Los Angeles Unified School District - Office of Environmental Health & Safety
Colorado Guidance on Chemical Management in Schools
Guidance documents were mailed to Colorado schools in August 1999, addressing chemical management issues in schools with a focus on potentially unstable laboratory chemicals. This web site has information on how to conduct a chemical inventory, a list of common hazards (including top 40 chemicals that have found to be a problem in schools, and 100 most commonly found explosive and shock sensitive materials), a self-assessment tool, and information about hazardous waste vendors.
Source: Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment - Consumer Protection Division
Connecticut Mercury Education and Reduction - School Lab Cleanout Program
This website provides access to information about mercury reduction and education efforts in the state of Connecticut. Posted is a report detailing CT DEP's 2002-2003 School Lab Cleanout Program, which assisted 37 schools, at a cost of $160,000.
Source: Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection - Bureau of Waste Management
Kansas School Laboratory Chemical Waste Disposal Program
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment has produced a Waste Chemical Disposal Guidance For Schools. This document is meant to assist those responsible for administering or improving waste management programs at local schools throughout Kansas. This document provides information regarding non-hazardous and hazardous waste, but does not prescribe in detail all required factors and considerations for this management.
Source: Kansad Department of Health & Environment - Bureau of Waste Management - Bureau of Waste Management
EPA Region 7: Chemical Management and Usage
Proper chemical management is critical to preventing and/or controlling a variety of Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) issues within any facility. Understanding the materials present at the school will enable you to understand the issues associated with these substances. Properly recognizing and controlling the hazards inherent to these materials will enhance your ability to create a safe school with minimal environmental liabilities.
Source: EPA Region 7- Burlington Board of Health
Illinois -- Greening Schools
Greening Schools offers FREE technical assistance, workshops for teachers, administrators and facility managers, and on-line resources related to pollution prevention for all Illinois schools.
Source: Illinois Waste Management and Research Center
EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness and Prevention
The Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) establishes requirements for Federal, State and local governments, Indian Tribes, and industry regarding emergency planning and Community Right-to-Know reporting on hazardous and toxic chemicals. The Community Right-to-Know provisions help increase the public's knowledge and access to information on chemicals at individual facilities, their uses, and releases into the environment. States and communities, working with facilities, can use the information to improve chemical safety and protect public health and the environment.
Source: EPA Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention - Chemical Emergency Preparedness & Prevention (CEPPO)
New York State Guidelines for Green Cleaning Products
Guidelines and specifications for the procurement and use of environmentally sensitive cleaning and maintenance products for all public and nonpublic elementary and secondary schools in New York State.
Source: New York State Office of General Services - Environmental Services Unit