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EPA is awarding nearly $750,000 in “capacity building” grants to help better our nations schools

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding nearly $750,000 in “capacity building” grants to five states -- Connecticut, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, and Wisconsin. These grants will be used to help states implement comprehensive K-12 school environmental health programs using the new Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program. The grants will be targeted to help states implement programs that will help their schools create healthy, productive learning spaces for students through activities such as reducing pesticide exposure, identifying asthma and allergen triggers, and reducing chemical and environmental hazards throughout the school.

School environments play an important role in the health and academic success of children. Children spend 90 percent of their time indoors, and much of that time is spent in school. Unhealthy school environments can affect attendance, concentration, and performance, as well as lead to expensive, time-consuming cleanup and remediation activities for schools.

Protecting children’s health is a critically important goal for EPA. A child’s developing organ systems are often highly sensitive to environmental stressors. Children are frequently more heavily exposed to toxic substances in the environment than adults. Children in minority, low income, and other underserved communities, as well as children with disabilities, may experience higher exposures to multiple environmental contaminants where they live, learn, and play and may be placed at a disproportionate risk for associated health effects.

While many states have existing programs to address children’s environmental health in schools, these grants will provide an opportunity to help states begin to develop a comprehensive program that can help states better provide safe, healthy, and productive school environments for children and school staff.

To learn more about healthy school environments for students and the new Voluntary Guidelines for States: Development and Implementation of a School Environmental Health Program, visit www.epa.gov/schools.

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