What explains this pattern of schools located near industrial pollution sources?
The authors suggest that the large amount of land that a school requires and the costs of land acquisition probably mean that officials searching for new school locations focus on areas where property values are low, which may be near polluting industrial facilities, major highways and other potentially hazardous sites.
Half of all states, including Michigan, do not require any evaluation of the environmental quality of areas under consideration as sites for new schools, nor do they prohibit building new industrial facilities and highways near existing schools.
Children are known to be more vulnerable than adults to the effects of pollution. Exposure to environmental pollutants during important times of physiological development can lead to long-lasting health problems, dysfunction and disease, the experts said.
"Our findings underscore the need to expand the concept of environmental justice to include children as a vulnerable population. Moreover, our findings show that children of color are disproportionately at risk," the authors wrote. "There is a need for proactive school policies that will protect children from exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollution and other environmental hazards."
The authors offer four policy recommendations to address the problem: 1) All potential school sites should be thoroughly analyzed, including tests of soil, water and air quality. 2) Policies should be enacted to insist on a minimum distance between sources of pollution and school locations. 3) Environmental mitigation policies should be adopted to reduce children's potential exposure to pollution. 4) Oversight and enforcement at the national, state and local levels needs to ensure better school environments.
Ninety-five percent of the estimated industrial air pollution around schools comes from 12 chemicals: diis
|Contact: Jim Erickson|
University of Michigan