News Release, US Environmental Protection Agency
CHICAGO – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing a new $50-million grant program, the Healthy Schools Grant Program, to expand the Trump Administration’s efforts to protect children where they learn and play. The announcement is part of President Trump’s proposed Fiscal Year 2020 budget and supports EPA’s ongoing commitment to evaluate and address risks to children’s health.
“Protecting children’s health is a top priority for EPA, and this new funding would help school’s address poor and deteriorating conditions that can harm children’s health and stymie academic progress,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “This grant program would help schools, especially those in underserved communities, reduce exposures to environmental hazards, create healthier learning environments, and ensure children can reach their fullest potential.”
“Children tend to be at greater risk from environmental hazards than adults because of their greater exposure relative to their body mass and because their developing organs make them more susceptible,” said Dr. Michael Firestone, acting director for EPA’s Office of Children’s Health Protection. “This new grant program is aimed at reducing those risks where children spend most of their time learning and playing.”
“Helping our schools provide healthy environments to learn and play in is an integral part of supporting communities,” said EPA Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp. “Children today spend most of their lives indoors, with much of that in schools. Classrooms should foster academic growth, not stymie future opportunities.”
The Healthy Schools Grant Program is a comprehensive environmental health grant program with the goal of identifying and addressing environmental health risks in and around schools that contribute to increased absenteeism and reduced academic performance. The Program would provide a total of $50 million for schools to identify, prevent, reduce and resolve environmental hazards including:
- reducing childhood lead exposure;
- reducing asthma triggers;
- promoting integrated pest management; and
- reducing or eliminating childhood exposure to one or more toxic chemicals in schools.
Eligible recipients would include state and local governments, federally recognized tribal governments, and non-profit organizations.
Nearly 50 million children attend more than 100,000 K-12 schools every day. Reducing exposures to environmental hazards in schools creates healthier learning environments, which enables children to perform better in the classroom and thereby improve their academic performance and expand their opportunities later in life.
The Healthy Schools Grant Program would also support the Federal Action Plan to Reduce Childhood Lead Exposures and Associated Health Impacts (Lead Action Plan), which was unveiled in December by EPA and 16 other federal departments and offices. The Lead Action Plan was developed by the President’s Task Force on Environmental Health Risks and Safety Risks to Children as a blueprint for reducing lead exposure and associated harms by working with states, tribes and local communities, along with businesses, property owners and parents.