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BPS Releases Statement on Build BPS Air Assessments

BOSTON — Thursday, March 2, 2017 — Today the Boston Public Schools (BPS) and the Boston Public Health Commission released statements and background information to clarify reviews of air quality and ventilation that were mentioned on the interactive tool on the website of BuildBPS, the school district’s 10 year educational and facilities master plan, which was released on March 1.

Statement from Boston Public Schools:
“Boston Public Schools and the City of Boston consider the health and well being of students and staff our top priority. The air quality assessment included in the recently released BuildBPS educational and facilities master plan reflects observational testing. The architectural and engineering firm Symmes Maini & McKee Associates (SMMA) relied on its experience to characterize whether the air in the buildings felt too warm, too cold, or stagnant at the time of its visit, or if odors were present. This was done without the use of air-quality-testing equipment, and was purely observational. It was done for the purpose of assessing the learning elements of a classroom, not the health or safety of the air.

"BPS and the Boston Public Health Commission conduct yearly audits of all school facilities to evaluate environmental quality, which includes air sampling. BPS would immediately take action if air quality samples were found that could jeopardize the health of our students or staff. Recent audits by BPS have not found any evidence that air quality in our schools could have a detrimental effect on the health of students, staff, or visitors.

"The City of Boston and BPS are proud that BuildBPS sets new standards for our buildings and 21st Century Learning. While the air quality assessments in the Build BPS report do not signify any health concerns, they are helpful pieces of information that BPS will examine as it prioritizes facility improvements, such as building ventilation systems, with the goal of enhancing student learning.”

Statement from Boston Public Health Commission:
“The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) works closely with Boston Public Schools on ensuring that the schools provide a safe and healthy environment for our children. We partner on a range of health initiatives, including asthma control and prevention and annual environmental health checks that include air quality monitoring.

“Over the past 15 years since BPHC began conducting environmental safety checks at the schools, inspectors have never identified an immediate threat to students or staff.

“BPHC is committed to addressing pediatric asthma, a complex condition, by offering services and working with partners to promote effective medication management and healthy indoor and outdoor environments.”

  • The environmental surveys are available on each school’s website
  • We conduct the surveys annually, and upon report of any issues/potential issues
  • Surveys check for factors including
    • Carbon dioxide levels
    • Carbon monoxide levels
    • Relative humidity
    • Temperature
    • VOCs
    • Clutter
    • Pests
    • Leaks/stains
    • Mold
    • Sanitation issues

- The Boston Public Schools Healthy Schools Taskforce, which is co-chaired by BPHC, meets regularly and oversees policies to improve school health conditions; and raises awareness and educates various stakeholders such as teachers, custodians, and nurses, about BPS green cleaning and environmental policies. Its goal is to continuously improve learning environments that positively impact the productivity, health, and wellness of students and staff within our school buildings by ensuring air quality, energy efficiency, and use of spaces for physical activity.