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Renee Blanchard's picture

For as long as I can remember I have wanted a house full of children. Though I don't have children now, when I first learned about the lack of laws banning the building of schools inside of, on top of, and near sources of pollution, I thought of them and what attending school on top of a landfill would do to them.

Today is the National Safe School Siting Day of Action. The Center for Health, Environment & Justice (CHEJ), Momsrising, Pesticide Action Network North America, Clean Schools Initiative, New York Lawyers for Public Interest, Coal River Mountain Justice and moms and dads just like you are taking action demanding safe school siting policies from our public officials.

I work for CHEJ coordinating our Safe School Siting Campaign and everyday I speak to families about how we can protect the health of our children and communities. The one thing that always comes up is how to hold our public officials accountable for the decisions they make and the decisions they choose not to make.

I am writing today to ask you to send a letter to your governor demanding that he or she passes a safe school siting policy for your state.

There are millions of reasons why safe school siting policies need to be put into place, but here are just five:

Preventing toxic exposures where schools are located protects entire communities. Safe siting policies will prevent toxic exposures to children and school staff through reducing their daily exposures to chemicals that can cause cancer, immune system impairments, birth defects, learning disabilities, asthma, and other health problems.

Children's developing systems make them more vulnerable to chemical exposure. During prenatal development, infancy, and adolescence, children are growing and adding new tissue more rapidly than at any other period of life, which makes children are susceptible to environmental chemical influences.

Children's bodies are more sensitive than adults. Children are less able to handle toxic chemical exposures. Children breathe more air and eat more per pound than adults. For example, children absorb about 50% of the lead to which they are exposed, while adults absorb only 10-15%.

Natural activities of children leave them more susceptible to chemical exposure. Normal school activities heighten children's exposure to the impacts of pollution. After school sports, recess, classes in which children explore the school's site ecosystem, children's natural curiosity, tendency to explore, and inclination to put their hands in their mouths all opens them to high levels of exposure.

Exercising precaution in the siting of schools will prevent future Love Canals. Exercising precaution in the siting of educational facilities will prevent future financial losses in terms of decreased student IQs, increases in injuries and illnesses among children and employees, and increased potential for lawsuits costing facilities much needed education dollars.

There are a lot of things happening in our country right now. Healthcare, gay rights, and the economic crisis are just some of the things that kept us busy over the past year. The one thing we shouldn't have to think about is whether our children are being exposed to high levels of toxic chemicals at school. No parent should have to send their child to a school that is sitting on top of a landfill or superfund site or steps from a coal sludge wall.

We need safe school siting policies in every community and in every state. But it is only through collective action will we really protect the health of our children and school staff.

Please help us fight for safe school siting policies. Send a letter to your governor demanding safe school siting policies.

Today CHEJ is also releasing our latest publication. The Safe School Siting Toolkit was put together to assist communities in making safe school siting decision and pass strong and comprehensive policies at a local and state level.

Download the toolkit here and start helping to pass safe school siting in your community.

For a toxic free future,
Renee Blanchard
Campaign Coordinator
Center for Health, Environment & Justice

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