America’s Sick Schools

Children are among the groups most vulnerable to exposure to toxic chemicals and unhealthful conditions.  Yet many American schools do just that.

No federal law prevents local authorities from building new schools on contaminated land.  However, the problem of building schools on hazardous sites, ranging from old landfills, abandoned factories to even a former Manhattan Project lab, has finally been recognized as a dangerous pattern. 

In reaction, several states have enacted laws to prevent siting of new schools on toxic sites.  These measures provide little relief to a large but unknown number of schools atop hotspots – some for decades, like the Malibu/Cabrillo schools. 

Besides what is in the soils, many older school buildings are themselves the source of problems.  An estimated one-third of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to provoke respiratory issues like asthma in students and teachers. A national survey of school nurses found that 40% knew children and staff adversely affected by indoor pollutants.

PEER is working with concerned public school teachers, staff and agency professionals to identify and remedy sick schools. Help us.