When we started The Pollution Detectives in early 2016, our focus was on informing interested citizens about newly emerging electronic tools that could help them investigate a wide range of pollution in a variety of environments – often by simply plugging something into a cell phone or tablet. We quickly learned that we could enhance the effectiveness of the project by splitting the target audience into two groups a) K-12 Students/Faculty, and, b) non-school based activists, and delivering more focused messages to each.
The new focus arose because we discovered some shocking facts about K-12 schools:
One in five Americans either attends, or works in, public and private K-12 schools.
One in five schools tested showed lead in the drinking water.
One in three has serious mold, dust or other air pollution problems that impact both health and learning.
One in five has levels of Radon that are too high, and can cause cancer.
The legal standards and building codes for Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels inside schools is set far above the level that is optimal for learning –a lot of taxpayer money is wasted because students have trouble learning in classrooms with low-oxygen levels.
We also learned that there are no federal regulations that require K-12 schools to be routinely monitored for pollution, and that only a few states have any regulations at all.
The new design of the website you are looking at reflects this learning.
We’ve split the website into two areas. One is an entirely new section focused solely on K-12 public and private schools. The other provides more general information for private citizens interested in inspecting rivers, public water supplies, leaking methane, outdoor air quality, and so forth.
The new focus area will include a program to lend students pollution detection toolkits, and teach students and teachers how to use them. They can inspect their own schools, either as a club, or as part of a curriculum.
We have identified appropriate, easy to use, EPA approved equipment, produced training materials on how to use them, and set up a 501C-3 tax-exempt organization to buy and lend out the tools. In the spring of 2017 we received grant money which enabled us to test our concept. The results of those efforts have been assembled as a slide show, and can be found elsewhere on our site.
We are on our way.
If you know of a school that has students and faculty that might like to study their internal school environment, please reach out to us by using the contact form here.
If you want to support our effort in other ways (spreading the word, hosting an in-person or electronically delivered (Skype, FaceTime, etc.) presentation, or make a donation, click here.
And if you want to become part of the effort by doing an internship or otherwise volunteering, click here.
Francis Koster, Ed.D.
President, The Pollution Detectives