NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Health Hazards In Public Schools

January 2, 2001

Critics have long noted a tendency among government bureaucrats to tell the private sector to "do as we say, not as we do." A recent report in Child magazine illustrates the point.

Although regulatory bureaucrats are quick to swarm all over business leaders when health hazards are suspected in factories, they appear unconcerned when similar hazards are discovered in public schools. The report says that nearly one in five public schools have unsatisfactory indoor air -- and about half of them exhibit at least one environmental hazard.

Here are some of the major hazards uncovered:

  • Peeling paint and art supplies containing lead are big concerns in preschools since small children frequently put objects in their mouths.
  • Asbestos is still being found in pipe coverings and other school building materials.
  • Fungus, dust and mold in schools have been known to cause asthma attacks, allergic reactions and skin irritations.
  • New carpets and pressed wood release formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds which can cause headaches and eye, nose and throat irritation -- as well as being linked to cancer.

Source: Rita Rubin and Dennis Kelly, "Indoor Health Hazards Found in Half of U.S. Schools," USA Today and Gannett News Service, January 2, 2001.


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