A Look at Toxic Schools with CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta

January 30, 2012

CNN’s “CNN Presents” recently shed light on school indoor air quality during their Toxic Schools segment.

IMG_3180_copyThe presentation spotlights different stakeholders including parents, students, and teachers who were adversely affected by mold, dust, carcinogens, and chemicals. Parents discussed how their children experienced headaches and breathing problems as a result of their school facilities. Most alarming, the special revealed that an estimated one-third of public schools have air quality that causes respiratory problems for children.

Protection from Filth by Clark from Afton, VA

Aside from causing persistent health issues, exposure to these conditions also caused students to miss school, inhibiting their ability to learn and succeed. For instance, nine-year-old Matthew Asselin missed 53 days of school as a result of frequent hospitals visits and recovery.

Toxic Schools also highlights that while schools serve as academic institutions for students, they are work environments for faculty and staff. The segment references a 2010 National Association of School Nurse survey that estimates that health of 40 percent of students and staff are adversely affected by school environments. Joellen Lawson, a former Connecticut special education teacher spotlighted in this presentation, was diagnosed with a debilitating respiratory disease as a result of constant exposure to mold. Again, unhealthy school facilities adversely affect student learning when an educator’s ability to teach is inhibited.

Through Your Lens, a photography contest and exhibition that HSC presents in partnership with Critical Exposure and the 21st Century School Fund, creates opportunities to spotlight school facilities and the impact they have on learning. The photo submissions showcase a wide spectrum of school environments both good and bad, but the message is clear: students and teachers deserve a healthy school environment in which they can learn, work and succeed.

Broken_window

Broken Window by Ian from Baltimore, MD

We encourage you to raise your voice on school indoor air quality. Tell Congress to fix schools in need of repair as part of its jobs-creation effort. Learn more about the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Billand send a letter to your Senators and Representative at www.fixamericasschoolstoday.org.

View Toxic Schools Part 1 and Part 2 online at CNN. 

These stories and those investigated by CNN remind us that every child deserves a healthy school environment.

Thank you to CNN for taking an in-depth look at this issue. 

Did you watch the special presentation? What are your thoughts?