By Julie Gordon

As a grandparent I am concerned about the health of all students. Indoor pollution is a problem that people are becoming more aware of due to allergies and sensitivities. But immediate reactions to indoor pollutants are only the tip of the iceberg. Long term health problems like cancer and learning disabilities and emotional problems from endocrine disruptors are on the increase.  What we can do to prevent sickness. Artificial perfumes such as air fresheners and cleaning products and paints and art supplies may be causing more damage than we are aware of.
•       VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
VOCs are the vapours in Oil paints, and Solvents and contribute to indoor air pollution. VOC vapours occur from off gassing of cleaning products, disinfectants, paint, paint strippers, varnish, adhesives, glues and even art supplies.  Breathing in dust and vapours can reduce brain function and impair the nervous system. It is recommended not to paint in the winter when opening windows is difficult or find other means of decorating e.g. Wall paper.
•       PVCs (polyvinyl chloride)
One of the most versatile plastics has shown to be one of the most hazardous. PVCs are commonly used in building materials and tarps and shower curtains. People breathe in plastic fibres! Exposure to PVCs occurs through inhalation of workplace air when there are renovations.  Low levels of the additive lead in workplace air can cause personality and behaviour changes, learning disabilities and lowered sperm count. Toxins collect in the fatty tissues, organs or bones, which may cause reproductive dysfunction and cancer.
•       PBDEs (poly brominated diphenyl ethers)
Foams and plastics, clothes and bedding may contain flame-retardants which cause cancer, thyroid and neurodevelopmental problems and disrupt endocrine function.
•       Cleaning products:
Poison control centers are aware of the problems caused by household and industrial cleansers. They can cause organ damage, respiratory, circulatory and reproductive problems because they are made of petro chemicals.
Oxygen from plants!
If we can not prevent the use of poisons in the school environment, plants can be grown in the school to improve the air quality. Large oxygen producing plants improve the air of many government institutions and students could also benefits and try to offset the negative effects of indoor pollution.
If an activity could threaten human health take precautions even if long-term harm is only suspected.
Sources of information:
•       Hidden Exposures Reproduction and Pregnancy
Produced by South Riverdale in collaboration with Toronto Public Health
•       WORKING HEALTH AND SAFETY CENTER • THE WAY IT WORKS Hazard Bulletins for health safety and environmental representatives RESOURCE LINES
This information was put together by Julie Gordon