Healthy School Facility Environments

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Health Effects

Students and staff may experience a range of health problems related to the school environment.

Students and staff who have asthma may suffer asthma attacks if exposed to dusts and other triggers in the school environment.  Common respiratory infections can spread more quickly to children and staff when ventilation is inadequate and proper hand-washing techniques aren't used.

Because of their job duties, certain school staff have special health concerns -- such as school nurses who may be exposed to bloodborne diseases.

Below are some resources that can help all members of the school community promote healthier schools.  School nurses play a key role in recognizing and preventing health problems. However, all health care providers need to educate themselves about the possible connections between health and the school environment.

KEY RESOURCES FOR:

Parents and Students

EPA Healthy School Environments Impact on Performance and Health

EPA Home Page for Office of Children's Health Protection, gateway for information about environmental risks to children

Child Health Information -- The American Academy of Pediatrics

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School Staff

Injured School Employees Entitled to Benefits, 2007, NJEA

Fighting to breathe easier; Coalition seeks to make NJ schools "asthma friendly".

DOH List of Physicians in NJ Specializing in Occupational and Environmental Illness. List of board-certified occupational medicine physicians in New Jersey.

NJ Workers Compensation Program
A partnership between government, industry and labor, the New Jersey system seeks to establish an equitable balance between the needs of injured workers and the needs of the employers of this state. The law protects both the employee and the employer: Employees receive reasonable and necessary medical care, temporary disability benefits and, when documented, an award for resulting permanent disability.

The Internet for School Nurses

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Architects and Engineers

The Built Environment and Children's Health, September 2003. Describes typical deficiencies in school environments that contribute to childhood injuries and rising rates of obesity and asthma. Though these common pediatric conditions are associated with risk factors within the built environment, the issue has received little researcher or policy maker attention. Includes 105 references. 20p.

Health Considerations When Choosing School Flooring, 2005. Evaluates the health impact of carpet, VCTT (vinyl compount tufted textile), linoleum, terrazzo, ceramic tile, concrete, and rubber, with an emphasis on the indoor air quality impact of each. The appropriate flooring options for various school spaces, noise abatement ideas where hard flooring is used, the impact of the school's concrete slab on flooring, and special considerations for wood flooring are also discussed.

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Other Resources

  1. Asthma
    1. ALA, "Open Airways for Schools"
    2. CDC Asthma and Allergies, Workplace Safety and Health Topics"
    3. EPA Home Page on Asthma in Schools
    4. NIOSH Topic Page on Asthma
    5. Pediatric/Adult Asthma Coalition of NJ Home Page
    6. School Asthma Coalition a Model of Team Effectiveness
    7. Work-Related Asthma
  2. Bird Droppings
    1. DOH PEOSH Information Bulletin on Bird droppings, 2000. Provides guidelines for the recognition of health risks associated with pigeon and bat droppings. It includes discussion of disease association, hazard recognition, evaluation, and control recommendations.
  3. Blood Diseases
    1. Bloodborne Diseases a Risk in Schools
    2. DOH PEOSH Model Plan on Bloodborne Pathogens
    3. OSHA Topic Page on Bloodborne Pathogens
  4. Cancer
    1. Cancer Concerns in My Workplace
    2. Fact Sheet - Known Occupational Causes of Cancer [pdf 164k].
  5. Infections
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MRSA in Schools
    2. Clean hands and Surfaces Prevent Infection, 2007, NJEA
    3. DOH MRSA
  6. Influenza
    1. The Flu (U.S. Dept. Health and Social Services)
    2. School Planning for Seasonal and Pandemic Flu (U.S. Dept. Health and Social Services)
    3. School Health Emergency and Crisis Planning - H1N1 (N.J. Dept. Ed.)
    4. H1N1 (swine) Flu, United Federation of Teachers Webpage
  7. Pesticides Poisoning
    1. Recognition and Management of Pesticide Poisonings, 5th Edition.
  8. Reproductive Health
    1. NIOSH Topic Page on Reproductive Health
  9. Respiratory Disease
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Environmental Hazards and Health Effects, Workplace Safety and Health Topics
  10. Skin Disease
    1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Skin Exposures and Effects, Workplace Safety and Health Topics
  11. Tuberculosis
    1. DOH PEOSH Fact Sheet on Tuberculosis Requirements, 2004. The requirements for preventing occupational exposure to tuberculosis enforced under the New Jersey PEOSH Act.
    2. DOH PEOSH Model Tuberculosis Infection Control Program, 2004. Model program to help public employers understand and comply with the "Requirements for Preventing Occupational Exposure to Tuberculosis" (TB Requirements), which became effective on July 1, 1997.
    3. OSHA Topic Page on Tuberculosis

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