On the heels of research that asthma and allergy rates are up to 50% higher for children who live near major highways, a new study finds that one in three U.S. public schools is within about 1,300 feet, or a quarter mile, from a major highway.
The asthma-rate research, by scientists in Munich, found that asthma and allergy rates could be 50% higher for children living within 400 feet of a major highway.
The new research, by University of Cincinnati researchers and published in the Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, used the quarter-mile mark as one benchmark, based on previous research by different scientists at the same university suggesting health impacts of living that close to a highway.
Because children spend approximately 30% of their day at school or on school grounds, the air quality at school is just as important for lung health as air quality at home, according to the researchers.
"This is a major public health concern that should be given serious consideration in future urban development, transportation planning and environmental policies," said Sergey Grinshpun, the principal investigator of the study.
Some states have taken action to build new schools only at set distances from major roads. California has a new law restricting building of new schools within 500 feet of a busy road, and New Jersey is considering a bill that would require new highway exit ramps to be 1,000 feet from schools.
Separately, new federal laws should reduce the amount of pollution from diesel engines, the major source of pollution on busy roads. Federal, state and local initiatives are also, slowly, making progress replacing or upgrading older school buses, which are major sources of air pollution that, obviously, can have an disproportionate effect on children.
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