Air at School Entrance May Be Big Threat to Students' Health

Article excerpt

While there are many on the job to ensure that schools are a safe and healthy place for all students, an unsuspecting culprit may be working to thwart those attempts from right on your school grounds.

According to a Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center researcher's recent study, the air students cross just before entering the school building could be the most toxic they encounter all day, reported USA Today.

What's behind the startlingly high levels of air pollutants outside of schools? Children's Hospital researcher Patrick Ryan believes he's nailed down the source: idling cars and school buses.

"The concentration of air pollutants near schools often significantly exceeds background levels in the community, particularly when idling school buses are present," he said.

Ryan, the lead author of the research, collaborated with other community organizations on the study, which was backed by a National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences grant.

The team's research corroborates past studies which have been able to demonstrate that children in homes located in close proximity to heavily-traveled roads and highways are at a higher risk for asthma, or have their asthma symptoms especially irritated by fumes and pollution from motor vehicles.

Why Idling Endangers

When idling, as cars and buses do daily during pick-up and drop-off, vehicles produce the most problematic particles. These, according to the newspaper, remain in the air well after vehicles depart, for up to several hours. Children's recess and gym class trips outdoors may well continue to be tainted by bus and car pollutants long after the morning drop-off.

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According to experts Ryan cited, children are at an elevated risk when in the presence of these pollutants, as compared to adults. Three main reasons for this are:

* Children tend to spend more time outdoors than adults, increasing their exposure to harmful particles.

* Pediatrician Dr. Marilyn Crumpton explains that children inhale "50 percent more air per pound of body weight than adults. …