Schools within this data set were then geocoded to accurately calculate distance to the nearest interstate, U.S. highway or state highway.
Past research on highway-related air pollution exposure has focused on residences located close to major roads. Grinshpun points out, however, that school-age children spend more than 30 percent of their day on school groundsin classrooms, after-school care or extracurricular activities.
"For many years, our focus has been on homes when it comes to air pollution. School attendance may result in a large dose of inhaled traffic pollutants thatuntil nowhave been completely overlooked," he adds.
These past studies suggest this proximity to highway traffic puts school-age children at an increased risk for asthma and respiratory problems later in life from air pollutants and aeroallergens.
This includes research from the UC Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) which has reported that exposure to traffic pollutants in close proximity to main roads has been associated with increased risk for asthma and other chronic respiratory problems during childhood.
Grinshpun's team found that public school students were more likely to attend schools near major highways compared to the general population. Researchers say the rapid expansion of metropolitan areas in recent yearsdeemed "urban sprawl"seems to be associated with the consistent building of schools near highways.
"Major roads play an important role in the economy, but we need to strike a balance between economic and health considerations as we break ground on new areas," says Alexandra Appatova, the study's first author. "Policymakers need to develop new effective strategies that would encourage urban planners to reconsider our current infrastructure, particularly when it comes to building new schools
|Contact: Amanda Harper|
University of Cincinnati