Portable Classroom Study: A Report to the Legislature
For immediate release
SACRAMENTO– Today the California Air Resources Board (ARB) and Department of Health Services (DHS) released a draft report that provides the results of a two-year study of environmental health conditions in California's portable classrooms. Governor Davis and the State Legislature requested the study to address growing children's health concerns relating to indoor classroom environments, particularly in portable classrooms.
"The findings of this study are not a surprise and steps are already being taken to address many of the issues raised in the report," said ARB Chairman, Dr. Alan C. Lloyd.
Environmental health conditions in a representative sample of 1,000 of California's classrooms were studied, with an emphasis on portable classrooms. Further, potentially unhealthful environmental conditions were identified and measurements were made to determine their extent. In consultation with stakeholders, recommended remedies to mitigate existing unhealthful conditions and prevent their future occurrence are being discussed. ARB workshops will be conducted to address those conditions.
Findings for some of the classrooms include:
- Inadequate Ventilation and Poor Maintenance of HVAC Systems
- Occasional High Formaldehyde Levels, Mainly from Pressed Wood Furniture, Wallboard and Carpeting
- Increased particle counts from carpets and rugs acting as a pollutant reservoir and because of classroom proximity to vehicle traffic.
- Temperature and Humidity Measurements Outside of Recommended Standards
- Moisture and Mold Problems Due to Water Leaks and Condensation
- Floor Dust Samples with Levels of Metals and Pesticides
- Noise, Particularly from Ventilation Systems, Above Recommended Decibel Levels
- Inadequate Lighting
Solutions to many of these problems have already begun through actions by school districts and state, federal and local agency taskforces.
"Concern has been voiced over environmental conditions in California's schools," added Lloyd. "The Governor and Legislature responded by funding this study for the health of California school children and faculty."
This study addresses health concerns of some portable classrooms currently in use. California has recently made historic investments in new school construction and modernization of older schools. Last year Governor Davis signed legislation to place a $25 billion school bond package on the state ballot. California voters approved the first bond in November, providing school districts with $11.4 billion in funding for new construction and modernization of K-12 schools. More than $6 billion has already been allocated to school districts statewide to begin new school construction and modernization projects. New bond funding will reduce the need for relocatable classrooms in California schools, and where the need remains, will provide funding to replace aged portable classrooms with classrooms that meet high environmental and health standards. The remaining $13 billion bond is scheduled to go before the voters on the March 2004 primary ballot.
Public comments on the findings will be taken at public workshops. A copy of the full report and a schedule of workshops can be viewed at: /research/indoor/pcs/pcs.htm.
The Board is expected to review the study at its July 24-25 meeting. Following the Board's approval, the report will be forwarded to the Legislature.