Monday, March 26, 2012

Health Threats to Canadian School Children Near Heavy Traffic

Proximity of public elementary schools to major roads in Canadian urban areas (33 page pdf, Ofer Amram, Rebecca Abernethy, Michael Brauer, Hugh Davies and Ryan W Allen, International Journal of Health Geographics, Dec. 21, 2011)

Also discussed here: School location a factor in student health, performance (Public Affairs, Simon Fraser University, Jan. 4, 2012)

And here: School location may impact kids' health (The Canadian Press, Jan 5, 2012)

Today, we focus on the proximity of schools are to major roads and why this constitutes a health risk to the school children. Nitrogen dioxide concentrations measured near schools drop off significantly within 75 m and up to 200 m from the roads. . The research reviewed indicates that in the 10 cities analysed (making up 1/3 of Canada’s population), 16 % of schools are within 75 m and 36% within 200 m of traffic. Provincial authorities in BC recommend keeping schools at least 150 m away from roads. Action may be taken with existing schools close to roads to reduce hazardous concentrations by as installing high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in ventilation systems and other measures.

Prince Philip Public Elementary School Nutana ...
Key Quotes:

Chronic exposure to traffic noise among children has been linked with increased blood pressure, reduced sleep quality, and cognitive deficits”

children 11-17 years spend an average of 12% of time of their time at school, making it the second most common microenvironment, while for children <11 years school is the 3rd most important microenvironment, accounting for 6% of time on average”

“Across all 10 cities, 16.3% of schools were located within 75 m of a major road.. Using a less conservative cut-off distance of 200 m, 36.1% of schools were located close to a major road, ranging between 11.7% of

“New schools could be set back from major traffic corridors, and it may also be beneficial to orient the school facilities such that the outdoor playgrounds are located as far as possible from major roads schools”

“the British Columbia Ministry of Environment recommends that schools and other sensitive facilities be placed at least 150 m from roads with over 15,000 vehicles/day”

“mitigate air pollution and noise impacts through improvements such as installing high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in ventilation systems, replacing window and door seals, constructing sound barriers, and installing double glazed windows”
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