Breathing Easier: American Lung Association Unveils Initiative to Create Lung-Friendly Environments in U.S. Schools

In the U.S., children spend an average of 1,000 hours in school per year, so it is critical to ensure the classroom is a healthy environment. To help keep kids healthy and in school, today, the American Lung Association launched a new initiative called Creating Lung-Friendly Environments for Youth, which helps schools and parents address chronic lung diseases like asthma, air quality and tobacco policies.

The health of our school environments is a priority, but some harms aren’t as apparent, like indoor air pollution. Air pollution in schools can affect how children learn and harm their growing lungs. It can also cause health problems for faculty and staff. This indoor air pollution can impact all children but is especially harmful for the 6.1 million children in the U.S. living with asthma. Secondhand smoke is an asthma trigger and is unhealthy for everyone, so smokefree policies in school are important for protecting all children.

“The health of our children is crucial, especially for schools where they spend so much of their time. Students’ lung health and academic success can be hindered by indoor air pollution, tobacco smoke, cleaning product chemicals, mold and much more during the school day,” said Harold Wimmer, President and CEO of the American Lung Association. “This new initiative will help schools create the best environment for children and empower parents with the information they need to make sure lung health is not impacting learning.”

The Lung Association’s new Creating Lung-Friendly Environments for Youth program offers information, guides and sample policies that can be implemented in schools to protect students and staff. The goal of this initiative is to build collaboration between schools, caregivers, healthcare providers and students to support overall lung health.  

For school personnel, the new initiative will offer:

  • A free 10-minute assessment to identify opportunities to enhance lung health policies and practices for students and the school community. 
  • Training for school employees to recognize and respond to an individual in respiratory distress.   
  • Resources for staff on how to implement an emergency stock asthma medication program to ensure that students and staff stay healthy at school.   
  • A guide to introduce a tobacco-free school policy (including e-cigarettes) to keep students, staff and visitors healthy.  

For parents and caregivers, the initiative will:

  • Provide tips to make sure caregivers understand the school’s policies and procedures if their child experiences asthma symptoms while at school.   
  • Help guide caregivers to collaborate with a child’s healthcare provider and school to ensure an agreed-upon plan is in place and utilized correctly during breathing emergencies.
  • Encourage family and community involvement in schools to further learning, development, and health of students. 
  • Support young adults transition to managing their asthma on their own by sharing these key American Lung Association resources.   

Access free trainings and information about the American Lung Association’s new Creating Lung-Friendly Environments for Youth program at

For more information, contact:

Jill Dale
[email protected]

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