Be a Safety Detective at School! There are many hidden dangers that contribute to our child’s health and learning at school. What are they?

Cleaning Products ~ If the words, WARNING, DANGER, or CAUTION appear on a cleaning product then it has poisonous ingredients in it. (The ‘skull & crossbones’ logo was removed years ago since chemical companies felt it was hurting sales.) Do children have access to the cleaning products? If the room is cleaned & mopped with heavily scented chemicals, do they just disappear with time? (No…chemicals stay in the air & on surfaces until someone breathes them or touches them!)

Pesticides ~ Are pesticides sprayed in the halls and classrooms while students are still present? Are the playgrounds sprayed with any chemicals?

Bus Safety~ Are busses left idling next to the school building before the end of the day? Fumes will enter the building and will fill up within the bus causing a toxic environment. Diesel fumes have been proven to cause headaches, nausea, and depression.

Food Allergies? How does your school handle students with severe food allergies? Are lunch tables washed immediately after use? Are parents aware not to bring certain foods to school?

There is trouble with Super Soaps–those anti-bacterial Soaps! Instead of saving us from infectious bugs, new evidence suggest such products may be setting us up for more problems. The anti-bacterial agent used in most soaps is triclosan. Studies at Tufts University report that even though triclosan kills ecoli by blocking a critical enzyme, some bacteria is slowly building resistance to the cleanser. Anti-bacterial soaps kill all bacteria, the good and the bad. Therefore our skin is left unprotected against some viruses. Just remember, if it says anti-bacterial it means it can kill bugs…therefore it has some level of pesticides in it! Unless you have a family member that is especially vulnerable to infection, a non-antibacterial product is all you need. (Plain old soap….harder to find on store shelves than you may think!)

So what can you do to make your child’s school a safer place?
1) Be friendly with the principal and teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
2) Visit the school while in session.
3) Ask to see what types of cleaning products are used in the classroom.

Ask if the children handle these products.

4) Come early to pick up your child from school. Where are the busses parked and are they running for long periods of time?

5) Check out your child’s classroom. Do the windows open? Is the room carpeted? Is it clean? Is it at a comfortable temperature? An 80 degree room does not make for the best learning environment.

What to LOOK for at your child’s school?

1) Cleaning Products

2) Pesticide Use

3) Bus Safety

4) Food Allergies

All of the above issues can effect your child and how he or she learns. Chemicals and pesticides can make a child have headaches, fatigue, depression, and a feeling of general unwellness. A child may feel fine until they get into the school bus and the diesel fumes may cause a headache or stomachache.

If your child has any food allergies, this should be brought to the school’s attention. If any child in the school has a severe food allergy then steps should be taken to protect that child.

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