Our School’s Safety: It’s Not Just the Lead in the Water

As the school year comes to a close, let’s recap with a significant event that struck earlier this year – the lead in the water. While most are aware of this health issue, many are unaware or have misconceptions about other health-related issues the school faces. The big announcement about the lead in the water has blinded us from other realities, such as the amount of pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers on fields and benign asbestos beneath the floor tiles. But just how ignorant have we been to these health concerns?

While 46% of students believe they have much knowledge about the lead in some water sources, 63% of students have little to no knowledge on the benign asbestos underneath the floor and 83% on the amount of chemicals used on the fields. Yet, 63% of students are concerned about the asbestos and 53% about the chemicals on the fields. Although students are clearly worried about these issues, not many know about the realities of these matters. This is a major problem. Students must be informed about what the issues are, what the effects of these issues are, and what is being done to solve them. Although this information is available to students, it is evidently not reaching them. Hopefully, by next school year, the school’s health information will truly be received by students.

But for now, I sat down with AP Environmental Science teacher Mr. Woods to discuss the truth about some of the schools’ health-related matters. First, while many may think that no one or only very few people have drank water from the contaminated water sources, this is a myth. Some science teachers have been drinking the water from their classroom sinks for years. The school has alerted students and faculty by placing signs above non-potable water sources. Still, an important question remains: should the water source be filtered? Mr. Woods believes that the amount of lead in the water is not enough to have a harmful impact on a person’s health. However, the amount surpasses what is permitted by the Safe Drinking Water Act. Thus, the school should oblige to this law. While many students may not pay much attention to this dilemma, we must remember that it is our health at risk. If we want something done, we have to do something about it.

The use of pesticides/herbicides/fertilizers on fields is also an issue Mr. Woods spoke about. Our school uses integrated pest management to treat our outdoor grounds. We have greatly reduced the amount of chemicals used on the fields and lawns, but it is important to be aware of when the grass outside is being treated. In ordered to be notified about when the grass areas are being sprayed, you can contact the head of Building and Grounds, Mr. Schloth, or sign up for a mailing list.

Mr. Woods also spoke on the asbestos under the floor tiles. Many students have concerns about the asbestos, which demonstrates the lack of knowledge students have on this issue within the school. Because the asbestos are not airborne, they pose no harmful effects to human health. However, the school has been taking precautionary actions, according to Mr. Woods, by replacing floor tiles in some classrooms. The question for us is if we should be spending our school’s budget on this matter.

Although the school year is coming to an end, we should take this year as a learning experience. Whether or not you believe the school well-informed us about these health-related matters, we should still keep our eyes open. Nothing is going to change, if we do not fight for it. It is up to you the kind of school and environment you want to live in. To hear Mr. Woods’s interview, click the link below.

Mr. Woods Interview.

Thank you Mr. Woods for participating in this interview.