Friday, May 6, 2011

How to protect children from air pollution?

Air pollution is not only huge environmental threat but also huge threat to human health that has particularly negative impact on children. Young children are much more vulnerable to air pollution than adults, and exposure to air pollution in early years can cause long-lasting health problems. People who were in their childhood exposed to severe levels of air pollution also often have lower IQ compared to people who didn't have problems with clean air in their early days.

The dangerous air pollutants come from variety of different sources such as motor vehicles, steel and chemical- manufacturing industries, power plants, rubber, wood and plastic products, etc.

How do we protect our children from these pollutants? The first thing that local government needs to do is to thoroughly inspect potential school site, analyzing not only the quality of air but also the quality of water and soil. The school should be located far away from the major sources of air pollution (motorways and industries), and there should be legal standards for a minimum distance between sources of pollution and school location.

The governments, both on local as well as the federal level need to ensure adequate environmental and health policies to reduce children's potential exposure to pollution, and create healthy school environment with clean air.

There are many schools that are built in areas close to polluting industrial facilities, major highways and other potentially hazardous sites. Why? Because these are the areas where property values are low, and costs are often the determining factor in choosing the future school site.

The determining factor shouldn’t be costs, it should be environmental quality of potential areas. In United States, for instance half of all states do not require any prior environmental evaluation about the future location of school which means that there are many schools in United States who are likely exposed to significant levels of air pollution.

Schools located near the major sources of air pollution are huge threat to children's health, and there is a huge need for proactive school policies that will protect children from overexposure to air pollution.

Our children deserve better.

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