|Health & the Empty Desk: Who is Keeping Track?|
First Posted March 2013
We have known for a number of years about the health risks of portable classrooms. However, have we really done anything significant with this knowledge of health issues related to portable classrooms? Not really. Children continue to be the biggest losers in this tragic scenario. We absolutely know better. The 2003 study presented below is evidence that the problem is not a new one. Somewhere, however, in the historical educational timeline we (as advocates for children) have to decide whether the health and welfare of our children (and teachers) are more valuable than our reliance on quickly-built, permanently-temporary, maintenance-deferred, portable classrooms.
CALIFORNIA PORTABLE CLASSROOMS STUDY
There are many reasons to study the school indoor environment. While in school buildings, the children and staff may be exposed to a number of chemicals and biological materials. Children are also more likely to suffer health consequences from indoor pollution. School buildings by design are densely populated, making the task of maintaining an acceptable indoor air quality much more difficult than in many other types of facilities.
Concerns over indoor environmental quality in California’s schools have risen recently as
the demand for classrooms has resulted in increased reliance on portable classrooms. Portable
classrooms are of special concern—inadequate, noisy ventilation systems and mold problems
have been reported in portable classrooms. Also, manufactured buildings may emit many
chemicals from the particleboard, plywood, fiberglass, carpets, glues and other materials used in
their construction, especially formaldehyde. Formaldehyde is an irritant and probable human
carcinogen. The California Air Resources Board (ARB, 1992, 1997) has identified it as a Toxic
Air Contaminant, and the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA, 2002)
has listed it as a carcinogen requiring Proposition 65 warnings.
To read the full study click on the link below: