Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Air Pollution Danger Zone

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Air Pollution Danger Zone

Article excerpt

One in three U.S. public schools are in the "air pollution danger zone," according to new research from the University of Cincinnati (UC). Researchers have found that more than 30% of American public schools are within 400 m, or a quarter mile, of major highways that consistently serve as main truck and traffic routes. Research has shown that proximity to major highways--and thus environmental pollutants, such as aerosolizing diesel exhaust particles--can leave school-age children more susceptible to respiratory diseases later in life.

"This is a major public health concern that should be given serious consideration in future urban development, transportation planning, and environmental policies," says Sergey Grinshpun, principal investigator of the study and professor of environmental health at UC. To protect the health of young children with developing lungs, he says new schools should be built further from major highways.

"Health risk can be mitigated through proper urban planning, but that does not erase the immediate risk to school-age children attending schools that are too close to highways right now," he adds. "Existing schools should be retrofitted with air filtration systems that will reduce students' exposure to traffic pollutants." The team reports its findings in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management. This is believed to be the first national study of school proximity and health risks associated with major roadways.

For this study, Grinshpun's team conducted a survey of major metropolitan areas representative of all geographical regions in the United States: Atlanta, Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Memphis, Minneapolis, and San Antonio. …

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