Toxic Chemicals in Schools: Health Hazards to Children and What You Can Do

October 15, 2014 @ 1:00pm (AKDT)

Pounds of toxic flame retardants are used on couches. Children are especially vulnerable. Alyssa Madsen (9 yrs), Brisais Madsen (3 yrs), Tasha Cox (3 yrs). Growing children are especially vulnerable to toxic chemicals. Photo by Samarys Seguinot-MedinaSchool-age children spend the majority of their waking hours at school where they may be exposed to a range of toxic chemicals linked to childhood cancer, asthma, and learning disabilities. On this call we will explore the known health effects and routes of exposure for some of the common sources of chemical contaminants in schools, including pesticides, toxic chemicals in cleaning products, hazardous building materials and — in schools built or renovated between 1950-1979 —  polychlorinated biphenyls ( PCBs). We will also discuss initiatives across the nation to make schools less toxic environments to protect the health of children, teachers and school staff.

Featured speakers

Claire L. Barnett, MBA, Founder and Executive Director, Healthy Schools Network, Inc. and Coordinator, national Coalition for Healthier Schools. The Healthy Schools Network has challenged the nation with a call to action to ensure that schools are environmentally responsible to all children, to personnel, and to communities. As a child health advocate, Barnett convened the fledgling Network in 1995 as a New York statewide coalition; it has since shaped and won new funds and multiple laws on school environments in the nation’s third largest educational system (NYS) and the nation’s single largest school district (NYC) as well as federally, and fostered state and regional reform coalitions.

David O. Carpenter, M.D., director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany and Professor of Environmental Health Sciences at UAlbany’s School of Public Health. Dr. Carpenter is an internationally-recognized expert on polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and public health. He has worked successfully with many communities across the country to help them assess the degree of human exposure to PCBs, including communities on St. Lawrence Island, Alaska. Dr. Carpenter received his M.D. at the Harvard Medical School in Boston, MA. He has more than 350 peer reviewed publications and has edited five books.

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