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5-06: Drinking water
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American Institute of Architects
American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers
Children's Environmental Health Network
Provides a resource guide for children's environmental health.
Construction Specifications Institute
Consumer Product Safety Commission
Safe playground equipment and other products.
Council of Educational Facility Planners
Professional association of those involved in planning, designing, building, and equipping schools; resources on advocacy, education on the efficacy of school design and student outcomes; training and professional development, research.
Environmental Protection Agency
For information on daily air quality across the United States.
Environmental Protection Agency
Environmental Protection Agency - "Tools for Schools" including renovations
Environmental Protection Agency - Additional School-Specific Matters and Resources
Environmental Protection Agency - Exhaust Fumes
Environmental Protection Agency - School Buses
National Institute of Standards and Technology
National Resource Center for Safe Schools
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6-03 - Buildings: construction and renovation

Comply with local and state-level policies that address the design and specifications for new schools and that address construction and renovation projects. Use current professional engineering, public health, scientific, accessibility, and safety guidelines. Plan and implement projects so that workers' and occupants' exposure to environmental hazards is eliminated or minimized and comply with the US Environmental Protection Agency guidelines for air quality and school design.


Designing and building schools as well as improving existing systems and buildings so that they provide a healthy and safe indoor and outdoor environment can prevent health and safety problems for occupants. Schools that are appropriately designed, constructed, and maintained can reduce operations and maintenance costs. Construction and renovation often disturb existing materials or introduce new materials thereby generating unsafe quantities of particulates, gases, and vapors, which result in poor indoor air quality.


Safety of a school environment must consider fire, earthquake and other safety codes (e.g., adequate stairways and exits, safety glass), thermal comfort controls, humidification and dehumidification systems, moisture protection measures, and building commissioning. Opt for energy efficiency and environmentally friendly materials and consider the energy absorbing properties of chosen materials. The design and construction of a healthy and safe school environment must also specifically consider school-site selection (based on transportation needs such as walking and biking paths), accessibility standards (i.e., accommodating disabilities), safe surfacing (e.g., playgrounds, hypoallergenic indoor flooring), and source control measures in areas such as science laboratories and vocational technical areas. Supplies of hot and cold water sources for sinks and toilets should be adequate and located strategically to promote hygiene (e.g., near food preparation areas, in rooms where students receive medical procedures, in toileting areas, in classrooms where chemical exposure may require flushing with water). Drinking fountain locations should promote water drinking but be protected from traffic to avoid oral injuries. Design classrooms, media centers, and libraries with good lighting and acoustics. Stairways, hallways, and restrooms should also be well-lit.

In the design stage of a construction and renovation project, strategic plans should be implemented to minimize and eliminate potential exposures to various environmental hazards to workers and occupants. These strategies include but are not limited to: work site isolation, safety practices, indoor air quality-friendly products and materials selection, construction methods, activities scheduling, good housekeeping practices, and project updates and communications. Federal and state regulatory requirements apply to renovations that disturb certain highly regulated substances, such as asbestos-containing materials and lead paint. Renovations in occupied buildings should only be undertaken after the strategic plans have been agreed to by all parties including the school administration, contract administrators, contractors, parents, students, and other interested parties, and after obtaining necessary regulatory approval.


American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists. Guidelines for the Assessment of Bioaerosols in the Indoor Environment. Cincinnati, Ohio; 1989.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Ventilation for Acceptable Indoor Air Quality, 62-1989 (Including ANSI/ASHRAE Addendum 62a-1990). Atlanta, GA: The Society; 1990.

American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers. Operation and maintenance management. In: 1999 ASHRAE Handbook: Heating, Ventilating, and Air-Conditioning Applications. Atlanta, GA: American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers; 1999:37.1-37.5.

California Electric and Magnetic Fields Program. General Information: Site Planning. Oakland, CA: California Electric and Magnetic Fields Program; 1997-1999.

Taras H, Campana J. How one school district decided on a carpet policy. J Sch Health. 2003; 73:45.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. Handbook for Public Playground Safety. Washington, DC: US Consumer Product Safety Commission; 1997.

US Environmental Protection Agency. IAQ Tools for School Kits. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2000. Available at:

US Environmental Protection Agency. Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools: Renovation and Repairs Checklist. Washington, DC: US Environmental Protection Agency; 2001. Available at:

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