Living in crowded cities filled with public transportation and thousands of vehicles may cause a large amount of pollution and be harmful to children heading to and from school, but a recent study has found that the most dangerous place for air pollution may just be the front of the school building.
According to Patrick Ryan, a researcher at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, children will pass through the dirtiest air when traveling to and from classes. “The concentration of air pollutants near schools often significantly exceeds background levels in the community, particularly when idling school buses are present,” said Ryan in the survey.
Children exposed to high levels of air pollution due to nearby expressways or other forms of vehicle-related pollution often develop asthma or similar conditions. These conditions will be aggravated by the large amounts of pollutions, further diminishing lung pollution. However, these issues will also be present in individuals who are only exposed for a short amount of time.
Small particles, about 2.5 micrometers in diameter or smaller, pose the largest threat due to the concentration found when buses and cars idle on the side of the road. They linger in the air hours after the vehicles in question have pulled away, and can be breathed in deeply, causing serious damage to the lungs. Since kids spend more time outside, take in about 50 percent more air per pound than adults, and are shorter and thus closer to tailpipes, experts believe children are more susceptible to respiratory damage due to air pollution.
Ryan, along with a team of researchers studied the air quality at four different Cincinnati public elementary schools during the winter of 2010-2011 before and after an anti-idling campaign was introduced. The results showed that soot levels dropped at two schools, while particle concentration dropped at three. Anti-idling campaigns are still running, and teachers and other school administrators continue to urge parents to turn cars off when picking up and dropping off their children. Ryan went on to say, “Where (anti-idling) could really make an impact is at suburban schools with campuses. Most districts are aware (of this research) and are trying to do something.”
Source: USA Today – www.usatoday.com