Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Air Pollution Too High Near Some US Schools

Date:
February 16, 2009
Source:
University of Maryland, College Park
Summary:
Air pollution is dangerously high around schools near some U.S. industrial plants, according to a recent study.

Air pollution is dangerously high around schools near some U.S. industrial plants, according to a recent study involving researchers from the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University.

The study, conducted by USA Today reporters, examined air pollution levels near schools around the U.S. over an eight month period. They used a computer model from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that tracks the paths of industrial air pollution around the United States to predict the areas of highest air pollution. The USA Today reporters then partnered with university researchers, including Amir Sapkota of the University of Maryland School of Public Health, to monitor the air quality around schools in areas predicted to have both low and high levels of pollution.

The researchers found high levels of toxins, including volatile organic compounds (VOC) and fine particulate matter, in the air near schools in the path of industrial pollution. Most of the affected schools were located on the East Coast and in the Midwest with the largest numbers in states like Illinois, New York, Louisiana and West Virginia . In many cases, toxin levels were much higher than those considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency. In some cases, the pollution was high enough to cause concern for long term adverse health effects.

"The study brings the air pollution problem to the forefront and shows that we need to pay more attention," said Sapkota. "By making people aware of the problem so that they can take action, this study serves an important purpose."

Sapkota helped measure and identify the VOCs collected from around the designated monitoring sites. VOCs are organic compounds that react to produce ozone (photochemical smog) and fine particulate matter or haze. They are found in emissions from burning oil and gasoline, as well as in cleaners, paints and tobacco smoke. They can cause both short- and long-term health effects.

Another researcher, Patrick Breysse of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, analyzed the metallic compounds collected from the air.

Smallest Victims

The study focused on schools because children are required by law to be there for long periods of time. This prolongs their exposure to any chemicals that might pollute the surrounding air. Children are most susceptible to these compounds because their bodies are small and in the process of developing.

"Exposure to a certain amount of toxin in a child is not the same as the exposure of an adult to the same amount of toxin," Sapkota said. "Because the child weighs less, he or she is exposed to more toxin per unit of body weight than an adult." Sapkota believes the next step is for the schools that are in these toxic hotspots to do more monitoring, especially of their indoor air quality, to assess the extent of the problem.

"The monitoring in this study was conducted outdoors," said Sapkota. "That doesn't necessarily mean that the toxin concentration is the same indoors, where people spend most of their time."

According to the EPA, the concentration of VOCs indoors can be up to ten times higher than concentrations outside. Air filters cannot remove gaseous VOCs from the air.

Sapkota also emphasized that everyday pollutants do not just come from industry. "VOCs also come from cleaning solvents, furniture, stored gasoline, and car exhaust, all of which can be found in or near our houses," he said.

He says individuals can help reduce VOC exposure by taking certain actions, such as choosing cleaning products with low VOC s, and taking public transportation rather than driving individual cars.

"The primary reason for taking action is that air pollution affects our health," Sapkota said. "We want to prevent people from getting sick and to do that we must remove or minimize exposure to air pollution."

The findings were published on the front page of USA Today on December 10, 2008.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Maryland, College Park. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Maryland, College Park. "Air Pollution Too High Near Some US Schools." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 February 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090214103104.htm>.
University of Maryland, College Park. (2009, February 16). Air Pollution Too High Near Some US Schools. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090214103104.htm
University of Maryland, College Park. "Air Pollution Too High Near Some US Schools." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/02/090214103104.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

UN Joint Mission Starts Removing Landmines in Cyprus

AFP (Apr. 23, 2014) — The UN mission in Cyprus (UNFICYP) led a mine clearance demonstration on Wednesday in the UN-controlled buffer zone where demining operations are being conducted near the Cypriot village of Mammari. Duration: 01:00 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

California Drought Is Good News for Gold Prospectors

AFP (Apr. 22, 2014) — For months California has suffered from a historic drought. The lack of water is worrying for farmers and ranchers, but for gold diggers it’s a stroke of good fortune. With water levels low, normally inaccessible areas are exposed. Duration: 01:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

Raw: MN Lakes Still Frozen Before Fishing Opener

AP (Apr. 22, 2014) — With only three weeks until Minnesota's fishing opener, many are wondering if the ice will be gone. Some of the Northland lakes are still covered by up to three feet of ice, causing concern that just like last year, the lakes won't be ready. (April 22) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Scientists Warn Of Likely El Niño Event This Year

Newsy (Apr. 22, 2014) — With Pacific ocean water already showing signs of warming, the NOAA says there's about a 66 percent chance the event will begin before November. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins