Keeping Kids Safe from Chemical Exposures in SchoolPosted on by
Approximately 50 million U.S. students attended 100,811 public and private elementary and secondary schools during the 2013–2014 school year. Children spend about a third of their day in school, where they should be provided with a healthy environment. However, schools, like other facilities, contain hazardous chemicals for a variety of purposes which include sanitation, educational opportunities (science laboratories or art classes), and cleaning purposes. These chemicals can unintentionally or sometimes intentionally be released. Because of children’s developing bodies and age-associated behaviors, they are more susceptible to being affected by them.
An important component to ensuring children’s safety in school settings is to understand the prevalence and characteristics of exposure to these acute chemical releases. Currently there is no standardized tracking system for such releases. ATSDR scientists Ayana R. Anderson and Maureen Orr knew they had a good source of information about acute chemical releases in school settings in the Hazardous Substances Emergency Events Surveillance (HSEES) program for 1990–2009 and the National Toxic Substance Incidents Program (NTSIP) from 2010 on. These ATSDR programs supported state health departments to collect data on a wide variety of acute chemical incidents and use this data to mitigate injuries and deaths.
Anderson and Orr have been working on numerous initiatives to increase awareness about acute chemical releases occurring in school settings and how to mitigate such releases. Initiatives began in 2011 with ATSDR partnering with the Interstate Chemical Threats Workgroup to conduct four webinars about acute chemical releases in school settings. A summary of the webinar proceedings can be found on the NTSIP website http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/ntsip/publications.html.
Currently, Anderson and Orr are working on two manuscripts to raise awareness about the harms of acute chemicals releases in school settings. One manuscript focuses on using data from HSEES/NTSIP to describe prevalence and characteristics of acute chemical releases in school settings. The second manuscript is a commentary that will describe existing initiatives at the federal, state, and local levels that are being used to decrease the number of acute chemical releases and injuries. ATSDR has also partnered with the National Conference of State Legislatures to produce a webinar that focuses on the ATSDR data and some existing safety initiatives- Safe School Environments-Chemical Safety.
To view the webinar that took place Friday, October 16, 2015, please go to http://www.ncsl.org/research/environment-and-natural-resources/safe-school-environments-chemical-safety-webinar.aspx
- Page last reviewed:December 10, 2015
- Page last updated:December 10, 2015
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