Report: Pennsylvania’s Aging Schools “Particularly Vulnerable” to Environmental Health Risks | Wednesday coffee

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Hello Wednesday Morning Dear Researchers.

Aging infrastructure has left Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts “particularly vulnerable” to environmental health risks such as radon and mold, endangering the safety of about 1.7 million public school students. a new report concludes.

The report, by the advocacy group Women for a healthy environment, calls on state officials to create “a fair formula” for investment in school infrastructure, and lift the existing moratorium on a reimbursement program for the construction of schools.

The report found that the majority of public school buildings in the state are within a mile of a polluter, and as a result, districts that serve more low-income and special education students have a greater prevalence of asthma.

The report also found that these districts were less likely to test for environmental risks and less likely to perform remediation work when they found such risks.

“Schools should be a safe place for children to learn, grow and play. The average school building in Pennsylvania was built in 1964 – several years before federal laws were passed that affect healthy indoor environments, ”said the group’s executive director, Michelle Naccarati-Chapkis, said in a statement.

“Thanks to science, we know that exposure to lead, radon and poor air quality, for example, affects the development of our children. Healthy learning environments lead to better academic success, ”she continued. “Therefore, it is essential that we invest in our schools to ensure a healthier future for children. This includes taking advantage of the unique opportunity that the American Rescue Plan Act present to deal with these environmental risks now.

Governor Tom Wolf, along with its Democratic allies in the General Assembly, have spent the past few years lobbying for the state to invest more in cleaning up the environment.

In 2018-2019, however, the administration secured $ 11.9 million to finance lead paint remediation for Philadelphia Public Schools. But in 2020, Wolf launched without success an effort of $ 1.1 billion to combat lead and asbestos contamination in public schools across the state.

This year, Democrats in the State Senate called for using part of the state budget $ 7 billion in federal stimulus funds to fix “crumbling” schools, WHY-FM in Philadelphia reported. Democrats said the money was a “a chance in a lifetime,” the Capital-Star Previously reported.

“Our physical environment has a huge impact on the way we move, the way we think and the way we act. In particular, the walls of a school building are there to encourage students to dream beyond their heights ”, Senator Tim Kearney, D-Delaware, said at a press conference in June touting the plan, according to WHY-FM.

State House Democrats have launched a similar plan to spend the stimulus money on various causes. But to frustration of democrats, the majority Republicans in the Legislature found themselves cash in $ 5 billion in stimulus money for future needs. An additional $ 2.5 billion in excess government tax revenue was filed in Pennsylvania ‘Rainy Day Fund. ‘

However, individual districts are free to spend the money they receive from the $ 1.6 billion in federal aid specifically intended for schools on lead remediation or other environmental issues that compromise student safety.

George W Nebinger Public School (photo by Philadelphia Tribune)

To reach its conclusions, the advocacy group analyzed radon, mold, water quality contaminants, polychlorinated biphenyls in school materials, artificial turf fields, pesticides on school grounds. , indoor air quality and lead in drinking water, paint and dust from a random sample of 65 people. school districts statewide.

Together, these districts serve over 175,000 students.

Among the districts tested, the researchers found that:

  • Seven out of ten had lead in their drinking water,
  • Two in three reported mold in their school buildings,
  • One in two reported “lead exceedances in dust and paint”
  • One in three reported high levels of radon, and
  • One in four reported ‘other’ water quality problems

And despite these results, many have not committed to corrective measures or introduced new health policies to deal with the danger, the report concluded.

“On a daily basis, a student’s school building affects their body more than their pediatrician. Erika Eitland, a public health expert who reviewed the report, said in a statement. “This deep dive would be valuable in any state because it provides direct evidence of action and describes a strategy that extends beyond the pandemic. “

(Source: Women for a healthy environment)

The report makes a number of recommendations for reform, including the creation of a state-wide school environmental health database that would publicly report on its findings, as well as the passage of legislation. on “safe locations” which would ensure that schools are not within a mile and a half of a pollution generating facility.

“This report is a call to action. We have an unprecedented opportunity to reinvest in our schools for the long term – to fund school infrastructure that can positively impact current and future generations of learners across the Commonwealth, ”conclude the report’s authors. “The challenge ahead is to act to ensure a healthy school so that every child can grow, learn and play. “

The Pennsylvania Capitol. (Capital-Star Photo by Sarah Anne Hughes)

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(Image via pxHere.com)

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Here’s your #Pittsburgh Instagram of the day:

What is happening
10 a.m., 461 Main Capitol: Senate Committee on Environmental Resources and Energy.
10 a.m., Montgomeryville, PA: House Aging & Youth Commission
10 a.m., G50 Irvis: Subcommittee of the Government House of Commons Committee on Pensions

Wolfwatch
Governor Tom Wolf does not have a public schedule today.

You say it’s your birthday Dept.
Do you have a birthday – yours or someone else’s – that you would like to jot down in this space? Email me on [email protected].

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Free Wednesday Baseball Link
The utterly unhappy Baltimore Orioles got pierced, 10-0, by Tampa Tuesday night. At this point in the season I remember the old ‘Peanuts‘cartoon where Schröder recount Charlie brown that the opposing team has picked up their signals. “Oh, do they know what I’m going to throw?” »Eternally put on Charlie brown demand Schröder. “No, it’s worse” Schröder replica. “They don’t care what you’re going to throw anymore.”

And now you are up to date.



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