Removing Unneeded/Dangerous Chemicals From Schools

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The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently recognized 11 organizations for promoting responsible chemical management and helping remove potentially dangerous chemicals from K-12 schools in their communities. Working with EPA’s Schools Chemical Cleanout Campaign (SC3), the organizations removed an estimated 70,000 pounds of potentially dangerous chemicals from approximately 300 schools. “This campaign reflects the very best of what we have to offer,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson at the October 22, 2009 event. “It brings together local volunteers, educators, [and] partners in the business community, and many others in service to our communities, and helps us in our most important work: protecting the health and safety of our children. We’re grateful for all the dedicated citizens stepping up to confront our most urgent environmental and children’s health challenges. They’re ensuring that our schools are safe places for children to learn, play and grow.” The organizations were recognized for a range of activities contributing to a reduction in chemical hazards, including:
  • assisting schools in developing accurate chemical inventories
  • removing and properly disposing of outdated, unknown, and unneeded chemicals
  • establishing sustainable programs to properly manage chemicals by training school administrators and teachers on responsible chemical management and green lesson planning.
The eleven SC3 volunteers recognized are as follows. Each organization’s efforts can be found on the EPA program site.
  1. Alabama Department of Environmental Management
  2. Ash Grove Cement Company
  3. BASF Corporation – White Stone Facility: In Spartanburg, SC high schools, BASF assisted in the efforts by evaluating the high schools’ chemical laboratory equipment and removed outdated, broken, and unreliable apparatus. In addition, company personnel provided guidance and assistance with obtaining appropriate chemical laboratory items to replace the old equipment. BASF has also worked with the schools to provide teacher training in responsible chemical management practices that can be implemented in schools
  4. Cadence Environmental Energy
    Matt Hale, Director, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, US Environmental Protection Agency; Tomie Petersen, student, Timber Lake High School, Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation Schools; Sami Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Environmental Protection Department; Barry Breen, Principal Deputy Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, US Environmental Protection Agency

    (from L to R) Matt Hale, Director, Office of Resource Conservation and Recovery, U.S. EPA; Tomie Petersen, student, Timber Lake High School, Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation Schools; Sami Ducheneaux, Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Environmental Protection Department; Barry Breen, Principal Deputy Administrator, Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response, U.S. EPA

  5. Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Environmental Protection Department: The Department was recognized for its work in Eagle Butte, SD to remove unwanted, unneeded, and outdated chemicals from Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation schools. The department gained the support, cooperation, and participation of school administrators and staff, which facilitated efforts to identify unsafe chemical situations and harmful chemicals. The department facilitated chemical inventories and worked with an SC3 charter partner, who donated their services to safely lab pack and collect chemicals for shipment and proper disposal. A total of 1,515 pounds of chemicals were removed from schools, including: neurotoxins, carcinogens, toxic, ignitable, and shock sensitive chemicals.
  6. The Dow Chemical Company: The company was recognized for its participation in an SC3 project with K-12 schools in the vicinity of Saginaw, MI. In 2006, Dow Chemical Company partnered with EPA Region 5 and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality to train teachers from 36 middle and high schools in responsible chemical management, and removed more than 3,600 pounds of hazardous, unneeded, and outdated laboratory chemicals from 32 schools. In 2007, a similar project was carried out in K-12 schools near Ann Arbor, MI. From these projects, Dow developed a flow chart to facilitate the development of corporate, state, and federal partnerships to improve chemical management in K-12 schools that it will continue to share with other corporations embarking on SC3 projects.
  7. EMC Insurance Companies
  8. Missouri Center for Safe Schools at UMKC
  9. Peaks to Prairies Pollution Prevention Information Center, Montana State UniversityP
  10. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  11. Tradebe Pollution Control Industries
EPA estimates that more than 33,000 middle and high schools across the country have potentially harmful chemicals that put students and staff at risk. SC3 works with schools, community organizations, and industry to help prevent chemical exposures through proper chemical management.

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