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School Environmental Health and Safety Program

 OSHEN Registration

OSHEN (Ohio Schools' Healthy Environment Network) Click on OSHEN Registration button to join the communications network consisting of Ohio schools, major educational organizations, and other interested stakeholders throughout the state.The purpose of this network is to provide links to school environmental health (SEH) training and resources, offer training through webinars produced by the Ohio Department of Health (ODH), and provide collaborative sharing between SEH stakeholders.

The Ohio Department of Health (ODH), Bureau of Environmental Health, Indoor Environments Section houses the School Environmental Health (SEH) Program.  This program works to improve the environmental health of Ohio’s schools through non-regulatory means. More than 1.75 million children and 100 thousand adults across Ohio spend their days in K-12 schools*. A growing body of research strongly supports the importance of school environmental health to both the educational success and overall health and well-being of Ohio's school children and staff. "Poor environmental conditions can thwart academic progress by making it harder for students to concentrate, causing or exacerbating illness in students and staff, increasing absences and lost work days, and diverting school funds to pay for costly repair and remediation projects**."

On the other hand, improvement in school environmental conditions can have significant positive impacts***. In one study "children in classrooms with higher outdoor air ventilation rates scored 14 to 15 percent higher on standardized tests than children in classrooms with lower outdoor air ventilation rates****."

In addition to wellness and the advancement of the core educational mission, attention to environmental quality can improve the financial health of Ohio's schools. In a study of classroom ventilation rates (VRs) and student illness absences in California elementary schools, researchers estimated that "increasing classroom VRs from the California average (4 l/s-person) to the state standard would decrease illness absences by 3.4 percent, increase attendance-linked funding to schools by $33 million annually, and increase costs by only $4 million*****."

Through a grant received from the USEPA, ODH has created voluntary K-12 guidelines for schools called, “Creating Healthy School Environments-Voluntary Guidelines for Ohio Schools.” These guidelines are now available in hard copy and may be requested by contacting the SEH program (contact information below). A digital copy will be made available on this web page in January, 2015. An ongoing communication network (OSHEN-see above to register) and tiered recognition for implementation of the guidelines at varying levels will help to ensure the sustainability and effectiveness of the program into the future.

Five regional trainings were offered in December, 2014, to present the guidelines to school and public health personnel. In addition, four guest speakers gave presentations on Chemical Management, Playground Safety, Integrated Pest Management, and Ventilation as they relate to schools. These presentations are available to view by clicking the link on the navigation bar to the left.

Click here to open the School Environmental Health Brochure
A brochure was created to explain the process of the guideline creation. Click the link to the left for more information.


***Haverinen-Shaughnessy U, Moschandreas DJ, Shaughnessy RJ. (2011) Association between substandard classroom ventilation rates and students’ academic achievement. Indoor Air. 2011 Apr;21(2):121-31. 
Mendell, M.J., Eliseeva, E.A., Davies, M.M., Spears, M., Lobscheid, A., Fisk, W.J., Apte,M.G. (2013). Association of classroom ventilation with reduced illness absence:a prospective study in California elementary schools. Indoor Air 23, 515–528. 
Moore C, Uyeda K, Cuevas Y, Villanueva R. (2010). Los Angeles Unified School District’s comprehensive asthma program. NASN Sch Nurse. 2010 Sep;25(5):210-2.
Simons E, Hwang SA, Fitzgerald EF, Kielb C, Lin S. (2010) The impact of school building conditions on student absenteeism in Upstate New York. Am J Public Health. 2010 Sep;100(9):1679-86.****
****Shaughnessy, R., U. Shaughnessy, et al. 2006. “A preliminary study on the association between ventilation rates in classrooms and student performance.” Indoor Air 16(6):465-468.
*****9 Mendell, M.J., Eliseeva, E.A., Davies, M.M., Spears, M., Lobscheid, A., Fisk, W.J., Apte,M.G. (2013). Association of classroom ventilation with reduced illness absence:a prospective study in California elementary schools. Indoor Air 23, 515–528.

Equipment Calibration:
Local health departments who wish to have their carbon dioxide meters calibrated can do so by shipping the devices to ODH.  The devices must be shipped in a manner in which they can be tracked and sent to the mailing address contained on this page.

If you have questions, please contact program staff using the information listed below.

Mailing Address:
Ohio Department of Health
School Environmental Health and Safety Program
246 North High Street
Columbus, OH 43215

Telephone: (614) 466-1390
Fax: (614) 466-4556


Page Updated:  1/7/2015