This is the time of year when many students head back to school. Did you know that up to 20 percent of weekday morning traffic is school-related? Living in areas with lots of traffic can prompt even more parents to drive children to school to ensure safety. Increased traffic and idling vehicles create air pollutants that can aggravate asthma and other respiratory conditions. Kids are more susceptible to health effects from poor air quality because their systems are not fully developed and because they spend more time engaged in high activity levels, which causes them to breathe more deeply.
Viewer Tip: The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is already monitoring outdoor air quality at schools around the country to look for air pollutants of concern and devise ways to improve air quality near schools. If you drive your kids to school, you can help reduce traffic and improve air quality with these tips:
- Avoid Idling. If you spend time waiting during drop-off and pick-up times, kill the engine. An idling car creates air pollutants…and gets zero miles per gallon.
- Carpool. Team up with other parents in the neighborhood and take turns driving kids to school to cut down on morning traffic.
- Walk or bike. If the weather is nice and school is nearby, encourage your kids to walk or bike to school. If you are concerned about safety, help kids map out a safe route to school and make the trip with them.
Seasons: Summer, Fall
(Sources: US EPA. Children’s Health Protection. “Designing Healthier Communities for Healthier Children.” http://yosemite.epa.gov/ochp/ochpweb.nsf/content/nphw2006.htm; International Walk to School, “Air Quality and the Environment,” http://www.walktoschool.org/why/environment.cfm)