A newly released study from researchers at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Ohio found that air pollution levels around schools can be measurably greater than pollution levels in surrounding communities. The cause: Idling school buses and cars.
The study looked at four Cincinnati public schools before and after a no-idling policy was put into effect. Bus drivers and parents waiting to drop off or pick up children are required to turn their engines off.
The researchers found that after the policy's implementation, airborne pollution levels fell significantly, with the greatest reduction at the school that had the most school buses servicing its students.
“Anti-idling campaigns are frequently attempted to improve air quality, but until now, no one has evaluated how effective they are,” said Patrick Ryan, lead author on the study. “The results of this study demonstrate, for the first time, that not idling is a simple and effective policy that can improve air quality at schools, especially schools with a large number of buses.”
Todd Beamer High in Federal Way is one Washington state school were a no-idling policy is already in effect.
Air quality at Washington state schools is the subject of a KING 5 investigation that found nearly 30 public Washington K-12 schools sit within 500 feet of a major road, with an additional 166 schools located within 500 feet of the state’s heaviest truck routes. A growing body of evidence dating back decades shows that air pollution from highways can cause lifelong respiratory problems and asthma attacks and boost school absenteeism.
KING 5's Chris Ingalls will have a new report on Washington state schools airing Thursday, Nov. 7 at 11 p.m. The first report in his series is online here.