EPA Finds Air Pollution A Threat to Schools: No Idle Legislation Can Help

Earth Day Network Interns - Timothy Damon & Andrew Kuhlman

A recent article cited studies by the EPA regarding air quality in school areas around the United States, revealing that several schools are exposed to hazardous levels of toxins such as manganese, acrolein, lead, and cadmium. The bad news is that kids are being exposed to these harmful toxins – a recently published study in the journal Health Affairs linked exposure to such pollution to problems with development and education. The good news is that these worst-case-scenarios only represent a handful of schools.        

Unfortunately, this does not mean other schools are in the clear. There are still hundreds of schools around the nation that have been incriminated with dangerously high levels of industrial pollutants. The EPA plans to review about a third of the schools it monitored and finish their findings sometime this summer. The EPA intends to offer communities $2.5 million in grants for additional air monitoring.  
Air pollution in school zones is not limited to nearby industrial sites – it also results from traffic, particularly the very school buses many children rely upon for transportation. Exhaust from car and bus engines can form particulate matter (PM) in the air, leading to a higher rate of repertory health problems such as asthma; children are particularly at risk. School buses often idle right on school grounds waiting before and after school, making them a primary culprit for pollution.   
For this reason, Earth Day Network supports no idling legislation in the states and in local communities. Prohibiting car and bus idling not only saves money and fuel, but also would go a long way toward limiting the air pollution children are exposed to each and every school day – leading to a happier, healthier, and better educated youth.