Ecology and Education and Social Issues25 Apr 2017 12:08 pm


The data supporting the fact that air pollution negatively impacts one’s health and in many cases shortens one’s life span are profuse. Car exhaust in particular has been identified as a major factor in many realms from asthma, to heart disease to cancer.

Cutting emissions could prevent nearly 300,000 US air pollution deaths

It is generally accepted that the health of children in particular is negatively impacted by air pollution and once again car exhaust. A child’s smaller lungs and developing immune system make them more susceptible than an adult to the harmful effects to fumes.

I live in a smaller city in which the populace is generally very concerned about health issues such as diet, exercise and pollution. Parents are very active and vocal regarding advocating for their children to make sure that the community is respectful and proactive regarding taking measures which help insure child safety and health.

Yet, it is perplexing to me how many of these same individuals spend each day during the school year in long lines of cars preparing to drop their child off and pick them up from school. Despite having ample school bus service, they choose to create traffic jams twice a day in which hundreds of idle cars wait often with their engines running in front if the school. Even the rare parent who does turn off their car, has to keep turning it on and off to keep the flow of traffic moving as they follow the long queue.


Health effects from car exhaust exposure can last a lifetime

In most situations in our community and many others in the US the cars pass and stall in front of the children’s play area and/or windows to the classroom. While the exhaust from a school bus is also a health issue, there are relatively few of them, and they do not have to stand in line for extended times to park.

Parent’s who choose to drive and pick up their children from school are not only endangering their children’s lives and health, but are also putting the lives of other children in danger through their needing to breathe the same air and learn in the same classrooms as the polluting parents. The smoke from the driving parents cars is second hand smoke which is negatively impacting the health and academic functioning of the children whose parents are taking the healthier option of taking the school bus.

Studies indicate that car fumes have a negative impact on many aspects of our children’s health both physical and mental. The denser the concentration of gas fumes and related particulates the more likely the negative impact on a students short and long term physical health, academic functioning and mental health.

One definitely could make the argument that the negative impacts of most school yard pollution is rather small, or that one cannot prove that any one child was harmed by school yard pollution. One could also propose that most pollution caused by drop off and pick up traffic is likely diffused fairly quickly and, therefore, not a significant factor. But, why would any caring parent want to play the odds or minimize a potential harm on their child’s health and academic functioning.

This is not to say that there are not individual situations and extenuating purposes that validate and even necessitate a parent from driving their kid to school, but only to point out the dangers when many parents choose to cart their children to school when other options are available.

Riding a school bus does present it’s own set of challenges and problems, most of which can be resolved in a positive way for the social and academic development of your child. Yet, their really is no positive side to the endangerment of your child and all his schoolmates by increasing car traffic both in terms of pollution and potential physical harm inherent in the presence of so many cars near so many impulsive and energetic children.

Caring for the environment and being a responsible loving parent should go hand in hand.

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