WASHINGTON - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Stephen L. Johnson has announced the release of a new tool to help schools identify and prevent health, safety, and environmental problems before they arise, building on the agency's voluntary school indoor air quality program. EPA's new Healthy School Environments Assessment Tool (HealthySEAT) is a free software tool that school districts can customize to assess potential issues such as mold, asbestos, and lead paint, then evaluate and manage information on conditions at each school.

"In elementary school, we learned that when we work alone, we can only accomplish so much; real success comes through teamwork, sharing, and cooperation," said Johnson. "EPA is working with schools across the country to provide clean, healthy learning environments for the leaders of tomorrow."

The announcement took place at EPA's sixth annual Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Symposium, with more than 500 school officials from across the country in attendance.

Indoor air quality can impact a student's performance, says EPA. Students who are exposed to poor indoor air quality experience decreased performance, diminished concentration levels, and score consistently lower on standardized tests than those students attending schools with good air quality. According to the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Education Research and Improvement, students attending schools with poor indoor air quality score 11 percent lower on standardized tests than those students attending schools in good condition.

Since the creation of the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools (IAQ TfS) program, more than 26,000 schools across the country have adopted IAQ management programs following EPA's guidance. The IAQ TfS program teaches schools how to identify, resolve, and prevent IAQ problems through low and no-cost measures. The program explains IAQ management, facility planning and maintenance, financing, communications, and emergency response. An IAQ Tools for Schools Kit also includes easy-to-use checklists for all school personnel, sample management plans, and a unique indoor air problem-solving wheel.

HealthySEAT is voluntary and helps school districts track all of their environmental, health, and safety information in a single database. The program includes a complete checklist of EPA recommendations and regulatory requirements on dozens of health and safety issues. Schools can download a free copy of HealthySEAT and learn more about the Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools Program at www.epa.gov/iaq/schools.

Publication date: 01/23/2006