Schools are germy places, almost as bad as hospitals. As a teacher, I’m suffering from my second illness this school year.
Children are in and out of class with various viruses and bacterial illnesses, but sometimes, those illnesses come from the school facilities themselves.
Astonishingly, “a third or more of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to provoke respiratory issues like asthma in students and teachers.”
Dr. John Santilli, a Connecticut allergist, says he has treated dozens of students sickened by school air. Even when children don’t miss school, he said, the medications they take for asthma and conditions like rhinitis, an allergic reaction to mold or dust, can make it harder for them to do their best work.
“They’re on antihistamines, they’re on nasal sprays, they’re on asthma medications, and this limits their ability to perform,” Santilli said. “These kids can’t concentrate. They can’t focus on what’s going on.”…
Researchers and others who follow the issue say school air problems have probably been exacerbated in recent years by funding cutbacks that have resulted in less money for building upkeep and maintenance…
Researchers at the New York state Health Department found a correlation between building maintenance at the public schools and hospitalizations for asthma. The condition of roofs, windows, walls and boilers were all related to the health of children at the school, researchers found.
A similar study in Boston schools found a link between asthma rates and leaks, mold, lack of repairs and visible signs of insects or rodents.
Children are particularly at risk because their bodies are still developing and they breathe in more air, pound for pound, than adults.
“Schools are more densely occupied than office buildings, and children aren’t little adults. They’re uniquely vulnerable,” said Claire Barnett, founder and executive director of the Healthy Schools Network, a nonprofit group focused on environmental health in schools.