Take Action

There are many steps teachers and associations can take in order to improve indoor classroom air quality. Healthy Air, Healthy Kids can provide individuals and groups with information and opportunities so that they can work to make changes in their schools, district, and state.

Teacher Opportunities
As a teacher, you can make small changes in your classroom that will improve not only your students’ health, but yours as well.  The most successful technique for managing asthma and allergies in the schools is to avoid “triggers.”  As a teacher, you can help reduce these triggers with a few easy steps. Asthma triggers can be found lurking in books, the carpet, and behind posters.  Check out the common hazards that might be at your school.
  • Make Changes to Your Classroom

Use the Classroom Check List
Healthy Air, Healthy Kids has adapted the Classroom Checklist from the U.S. EPA’s Tools for Schools Action Kit.  Download the checklist and see how you can improve your IAQ! Make Your Classroom “Custodian-Friendly” Dust mites can be found on flooring, rugs, curtains, upholstered furniture and fuzzy toys.  Reducing classroom clutter reduces dust mites and makes classrooms easier to vacuum and clean. IAQ_Teacher_Opp_Animal
Control Animal Allergens
Warm blooded and furry animals have more allergens than other pets.  If possible, keep pets outside the classroom or caged and away from sensitive students and classroom air vents.
Improve Ventilation
Inadequate fresh air can cause headaches and sleepiness.  Air should be flowing constantly and vents unobstructed by classroom supplies.  Maximize circulation by opening top and bottom windows.  Teachers can test whether air is flowing by attaching a string to vents or using a pole with a string to test ceiling vents.  Portable air cleaners vary greatly in effectiveness and some can emit harmful ozone. IAQ_Teacher_Opp_AvoidAvoid Toxic Substances Teachers should use district-approved cleaning supplies and encourage districts to use non-toxic, low-odor environmentally preferable products.  Fumes from cleaning, laboratory and art supplies can be respiratory irritants and containers should be clearly labeled.  Try to use non-toxic water-based dry erase white board pens that do not emit chemical odors.
Clean Up Moisture and Mold
The key to controlling mold is controlling the moisture that promotes its growth.  Molds must be removed, not just “killed.”  Hard surfaces and spills should be washed with detergent and water and then dried thoroughly.  Monitor moisture from plants that have been over-watered, which can leak onto the carpet.  Spills should be cleaned up immediately to prevent mold growth.IAQ_Teacher_Opportunities_Mold
Eliminate Scented Products
Products including air fresheners, perfumes, and deodorizers can be allergy and asthma triggers.  Teachers should speak to students and parent classroom volunteers about minimizing their use.
Control Insect Pests
Chronic exposure to pesticides has been shown to cause nervous system, kidney, and liver damage.  Asthma and environmental advocates promote integrated pest management in schools that uses the least toxic chemicals in conjunction with non-chemical techniques to control pests.  Teachers should cover any food used in the classroom tightly and store away from pests.
  • Be an Advocate for Your Classroom
Report all unhealthy and uncomfortable conditions including leaks, vehicle exhaust fumes, chemical odors, stained ceiling tiles and problems with ventilation and temperature to building staff and site administrators.  Your local association can provide assistance to help address problems and promote healthy indoor air quality practices and policies in the district.
  • Talk to the US EPA
The Environmental Protection Agency is dedicated to helping make the indoor air quality of your classroom as clean as possible. First, learn more about the EPA’s Tools for Schools Kit.  This program provides tools for both districts and teachers to improve indoor air quality and reduce asthma triggers.  It includes a simple classroom check-list and easy to implement interventions. You can also contact EPA expert, Shelly Rosenblum, through Ask Shelly.  He can answer your questions about cleaners, classroom pets, and other concerns you might have.

Local Association Opportunities
Does your district provide the best attainable indoor environment to support health, teaching and learning?  As an association, you HAHK_Local_Associationcan play an important role in advocating for positive changes. Provide information about indoor air quality and support teacher efforts.
  • Work with the Healthy Air, Healthy Kidsproject to provide information and distribute materials to your teachers about indoor air quality, asthma triggers and simple classroom interventions to improve classroom conditions.
  • Help address unresolved indoor air quality problems at the school sites.
  • Negotiate health and safety language in district contracts.
Promote healthy indoor air quality practices and policies in the district.
  • Support integrated pest management programs that use the least toxic chemicals in conjunction with non-chemical techniques.
  • Promote the use of less toxic, environmentally preferable products that benefit both the user and the environment.
  • Encourage the district to implement a comprehensive indoor air qualitWork with school nurses, parents, and community-based organizations including Community Action to Fight Asthma (CAFA) to improve indoor air quality conditions for the entire school community.y management program such as the U.S. Environment Protection Agency’s Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Tools for Schools Kit that combines district, teacher, and school district personnel activities to promote a healthier school environment.
Healthy Air, Healthy Kids has developed a DVD that details how your association, schools, and district can easily improve IAQ.  Order a FREE copy of the DVD today and start making important changes in your schools.

State Action
While many school districts are independently making improvements to their indoor air quality, Healthy Air, Healthy Kids been State_Actionparticipating in workgroups that advocate for more comprehensive, statewide change.  Learn more about our activities and how you can raise awareness in your area.
State Legislation
During the 2009 legislative year, Healthy Air, Healthy Kids has participated in the workgroup moving forward AB 821 (Brownley), The Clean and Healthy School Act.  This piece of legislation would require all school districts to switch to environmentally preferable cleaning products by the 2011-2012 school year, as long as it is economically feasible.
State Advocacy
Healthy Air, Healthy Kids is a member for the California School Environmental Health and Asthma Collaborative (SEHAC).  SEHAC is a group of stakeholders including the California Department of Education, California Association of School Boards, RAMP, and many others that is working together to improve asthma management and indoor air quality management programs in schools. Learn more about this group and its partners.