39 schools within San Diego County are located within the traffic pollution ‘danger zone’ at a distance of just 500 feet from pollution filled traffic corridors. Many air pollution researchers have already stated that this is not a safe distance for children to spend their days, and brings about a significant increase in the chances of pediatric asthma as well as a host of other respiratory problems.
Joel Hoffman at Voice of San Diego details how schools in San Diego are situated too close for comfort — quite literally — to major thoroughfares. For example, a Catholic school is located right beneath I- 5, an area where a seemingly-endless run of trucks and vehicles make their way to the Gaslamp District, and a health sciences charter high is situated just off I- 15 in City Heights.
“Being close to traffic pollution is one of the greatest environmental threats experienced by the children of San Diego,” said Dr. Penelope Quintana, an associate professor at San Diego State University who studies the biological impact of air pollution. “They’re a very vulnerable population.”
Air pollution researchers have been working to identify and demonstrate a link between the proximity to air pollution and respiratory problems, and they have found a strong connection. As data revealed by the Mayo Clinic shows, pediatric asthma is one of the leading causes for emergency visits to the hospital, admission to the hospital and/or missing school. Moreover, the symptoms can continue to develop throughout the adult life of the individual.
Even though reports have stated that the overall amount of pollution within San Diego County is improving, the American Lung Association in California revealed that the air quality of San Diego County received another poor grade this year — a rating the falls outside what the Association considers to be a healthy bracket.
A significant portion of a child’s day is spent in school, and if the air that they breathe for the better part of their day is infused with pollution, kids are at risk to be affected negatively. And even existing law doesn’t necessarily help. Even though California law prohibits schools to be located within 500 feet of major roadways, problem schools are often situated close by — and hence they are in the red zone despite following the letter of the law. However, no concrete steps have as yet been taken to enforce changes that might force the relocation of these schools, meaning some children who attend continue to suffer.