District Probes Health Risk of Schools Near Freeways
The Los Angeles Board of Education has retracted plans to build two schools near freeways following warnings from health experts linking road pollutants to respiratory problems in children, the Los Angeles Times reports (Larrubia, Los Angeles Times, 11/12).
The two planned facilities are in addition to five schools that the Los Angeles Unified School District is currently building within 500 feet of freeways.
These campuses are in addition to the nine schools that the district has opened near freeways since 1997.
A 2003 state law prohibits school districts from building campuses within 500 feet of a freeway, unless the district can lessen the risk posed by air pollutants or prove that it has space limitations (California Healthline, 9/25).
However, recent studies have shown that children who live near freeways suffer from decreased lung function and development, and increased rates of asthma.
Yolie Flores Aguilar, chair of the school board's facilities committee, has called for meetings to outline future policies designating where the district will build schools. Aguilar also seeks recommendations from the district's environmental officials on how to reduce road pollutants in existing schools.
The full board is expected to receive the recommendations by February 2008.
Angele Bellomo, head of the district's Office of Environmental Health and Safety, said the most harmful pollutants at existing schools cannot be eradicated, however, because they consist of ultra-fine particles that are difficult to capture and cannot be filtered.
Bellomo said the best solution for reducing harmful pollutants in schools is for stricter vehicle emissions standards at a state and federal level (Los Angeles Times, 11/12).