EPA program for local schools?

EPA program for local schools?

By Shellie Berg

By Shellie Berg

Staff Reporter

Could the lawsuit filed by Doug and Chris Block against the school district that claimed their daughter suffered asthma attacks at Guilford because of poor environmental conditions have been avoided?

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indicates that a vast number of lawsuits mirror that of the Blocks. To combat the growing mold and air quality problems and lawsuits that recently accompany them, the EPA is currently promoting the new program, “Tools for Schools.”

The indoor air quality program has been endorsed by agencies including the American Lung Association and the Council for American Private Education.

“It’s sort of state-of-the-art standards that schools can adopt and improve their conditions,” said J.S. Barnette, the U.S. EPA’s Region chief of radiation and indoor air program in Chicago.

The six-month program entails an interested school district inviting the EPA to visit and to walk through two or three schools with school officials. A staff member in the school district volunteers to be a coordinator.

The coordinator’s duties include providing indoor air quality information, gathering complaints and communicating to administration, staff, students, parents and the media. The EPA provides general guidelines on how to prevent problems.

The EPA lacks regulatory authority over schools. “This is a way to provide public information,” Barnette said. “We’re not going to fix all problems. We can help them take care of problems early.”

The EPA suggests the reasons schools should get the kit are because the expense and effort required to remediate problems cost more than the expense and effort to thwart problems. The EPA also suggests that making faculty and students aware of air quality issues can prevent problems. If the district requires outside help, school officials will be more informed consumers.

The Rock River Times made many unsuccessful attempts to contact Jim Jennings, communications director for the Rockford School District.

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