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Reading, Writing and Risk

Saturday, May 1, 1999

Reading, Writing and Risk

Air Pollution Inside California's Portable Classrooms

View and Download the report here: Reading, Writing and Risk

More than two million California children attend school in portable classrooms that can be a significant source of exposure to airborne toxic chemicals and molds, according to state and federal data analyzed by Environmental Working Group (EWG).

Tests by school districts and indoor air quality specialists, plus extensive documentation of air toxins in mobile homes and similar structures, indicate that manufactured buildings emit hundreds of chemicals, including a number known to cause cancer, birth defects, brain and nerve damage, asthma and other illnesses. Of greatest concern are volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as formaldehyde, benzene and toluene, which are emitted from the particle board, plywood, fiberglass, carpets, glues and other materials used in portables. Manufactured buildings, which are often prone to leaks, are also favored habitat for toxic molds that can cause nausea, nosebleeds, respiratory illness, and in extreme cases, even death.

How serious the health risks are in portable classrooms is hard to say. In many reported cases, students or teachers who suffered health problems in portables experienced short-term effects such as headaches or nausea that abated when they switched classrooms or ventila- tion deficiencies were corrected. But an exhaustive review of the scientific literature finds clear evidence that some portables can expose children to toxic chemicals at levels that pose an unac- ceptable risk of increasing their chances of developing cancer or other serious illness.

View and Download the report here: Reading, Writing and Risk

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