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PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 06, 2006

Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Marilyn Riley
(609) 984-7160


 
New Jersey Launches Web Site Promoting Healthy School Facility Environments


 

TRENTONNew Jersey today launched the Healthy School Facility Environments web site, a gateway to on-line resources to help prevent, identify and control health and safety hazards in the state’s more than 3,600 public and private school buildings.

The result of a cooperative effort among state agencies and advocacy groups, the site – www.state.nj.us/health/healthyschools -- contains a wide range of information that can help parents, students, school staff, school administrators, architects, engineers and contractors address environmental health issues in school buildings.

Creation of the web site was directed by the Healthy Schools Ad Hoc Committee.  The committee includes representatives from the departments of Health and Senior Services, Environmental Protection, Education, Community Affairs, Labor and Workforce Development and the New Jersey Schools Construction Corporation working in partnership with the New Jersey Work Environment Council, the Education Law Center, New Jersey Education Association, New Jersey Environmental Federation and Isles, Inc.

“We’re pleased New Jersey can offer parents, school employees and construction experts a one-stop-shopping web site for finding helpful information on creating and maintaining healthy school buildings,” said Health and Senior Services Commissioner Fred M. Jacobs, M.D., J.D.   “This is a valuable addition to the Department of Health and Senior Services’ ongoing programs to protect the health and safety of children and employees in schools.”

“With more than 1.4 million children and 200,000 staff spending hundreds of days a year in our schools, a healthy school environment is of great importance to our state” said Rick Engler, Executive Director of the New Jersey Work Environment Council.  “This web site helps people learn what steps can be taken to prevent and address some of the common problems we see in schools, such as inadequate heating and ventilation, disruptive noise and dust from construction projects, or leaky roofs that can damage buildings and lead to mold contamination.”

In New Jersey, the six state agencies named above and two federal agencies – the Environmental Protection Agency and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration -- share responsibility for healthy school facility environments.

There are also many community, environmental, and labor organizations working to ensure healthy schools.  The web site describes each of the participating state agencies and advocacy groups, outlines their responsibilities and provides links to their web pages. 

Key agency telephone numbers are provided for anyone wishing to report school facility environmental health and safety concerns.

The web site also includes sections on such topics as hazardous substance use and management in science laboratories and other school areas, school operation and maintenance, school-related health issues, indoor air quality, and school acoustics and noise.

Protecting staff and students during school construction, which is ongoing in many New Jersey school districts, is another important focus of the site.  A web site section on design, construction and renovation of school facilities provides links to information on environmental conditions at proposed school sites.  The Model School District Policies for Protection of Staff and Students During School Construction, a document prepared by the Healthy Schools Ad Hoc Committee, may also be downloaded from the site.

 The Healthy Schools Ad Hoc Committee has been meeting for the past two years to improve communication and coordination among member agencies and organizations.  The web site is a result of their efforts.  The committee continues to meet to review and address school facility issues of concern.

The Healthy School Facility Environments web page is available on the Department of Health and Senior Services web site at www.state.nj.us/health/healthyschools.  School-related information is also available from the individual agencies participating in the new web site.

 
 
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