AbstractsEducation Research & Administration

Developing Policy on Environmental Quality, Schools, and Health

by Mozhgon Rajaee

Institution: University of Michigan
Department: Natural Resources and Environment
Degree: MS
Year: 2012
Keywords: Michigan; Policy; Siting; Schools
Record ID: 1953632
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/2027.42/90938


In this report, we discuss current research on school siting and environmental health, specific school siting policies in states other than Michigan, federal school siting guidelines, and, lastly, we present a range of policy options for addressing environmental health issues as they relate to school siting in Michigan. As children can spend upwards of seven hours per day in school, the location and condition of their school can have a significant impact on their overall exposure to toxicants in their environment. Furthermore, school location can have an effect on what proportion of children are able to walk or bike to school, and, as such, can have profound impacts on healthy lifestyle choices (Miles, Adelaja, and Wyckoff, 2011). In particular, this report focuses on the environmental pollution burdens faced by children from sources external to the school, such as air pollution from motor-vehicle traffic or industrial sources, and soil and groundwater pollution from hazardous waste sites. Currently, there is no state regulation in Michigan that addresses school siting with respect to environmental quality considerations. At the state level, school siting policies and guidelines currently exist in twenty-six states (Fischbach, 2006). At the federal level, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently issued guidelines on school siting in October 2011 that they recommend local education agencies follow (U.S. EPA, 2011a). The EPA guidelines serve an important role as a tool for improved child health, but because the EPA did not mandate or go into specifics about school siting rules due to the vast differences occurring from state to state, the guidelines can be broad and vague. The EPA???s national guidelines provide a basis for understanding key concerns and shortcomings of existing school siting policy, and how it may be used in state and local policies. So, in spite of the fact that these EPA guidelines are available, the presence of policies on school siting at the state level is still necessary to add more state-specific considerations to them. Literature Review We present a broad review of literature related to school siting to help frame the importance of the issue and lend context to the subjects in our Interview Synthesis and Policy Recommendations sections. This includes sections on health and environmental pollution as it relates to schools, school siting and environmental justice, the EPA school siting guidelines, school siting policies that exist in other states, and the current and historic atmosphere of school siting in Michigan. P a g e | 4 Methodology In addition to our review of relevant literature, we conducted a series of telephone interviews with state and federal government agency officials, public health researchers, school administrators, land-use experts, and non-governmental organization representatives. These stakeholders included informants from Michigan, other states, and at the national level. The aim of these interviews was to assess key issues…