5 Green Ways to Make Your Child's School Safer

Simple ways to reduce your child's exposure to hazardous pollutants
An excerpt from 'Growing Up Green'

If we all join forces with other concerned parents in our communities, we can force school officials to do a better job of reducing our children’s exposure to lead, mercury, pesticides and other hazardous pollutants. There are lots of easy ways to increase school safety.

Bring up your concerns with other parents at school meetings, and together you can:

  • Persuade the school administration to make the switch to nontoxic and biodegradable cleaning products that contain few or no volatile organic compounds. You don’t need dangerous chemicals to clean a school thoroughly and effectively.
  • Test for lead in water and replace old pipes, since children tend to absorb more lead than the average adult.
  • Work with your municipality to identify, collect, and recycle mercury products that might be present in your children’s school. Start a drive to replace these products with nonmercury alternatives.
  • Reduce the use of pesticides in school buildings and landscapes and use alternative methods of managing pests. Integrated pest management is a collaborative effort between parents, teachers, administrators, cafeteria workers, and even the students that has proven to be an effective method of managing pest infestations in school buildings, and on school grounds, without the need for pesticides.
  • Make sure that the outdoor play equipment, decks, and fences at your children’s schools are arsenic free. Before your child becomes ill, check the wood. You can order an inexpensive test kit to test for arsenic in the soil or in wood structures.

Discover more tips to make your child safer with Deirdre Imus’s Growing Up Green: Baby and Child Care.


Deirdre ImusDeirdre Imus, author of Growing Up Green: Baby and Child Care, is the founder and president of the Deirdre Imus Environmental Center for Pediatric Oncology(R), part of Hackensack University Medical Center (HUMC) in New Jersey. She is also a cofounder and codirector of the Imus Cattle Ranch for Kids with Cancer, and the author of the bestselling book The Imus Ranch: Cooking for Kids and Cowboys.

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