Toxic Air at American Schools
Do you know what toxins your kids are breathing in while they’re at school? Just how toxic is that air at the school? I recently read The Smokestack Effect and eagerly looked up the school that my son goes to. It ranked in the 77th percentile, which is good considering the fact that schools in Bastrop, south Austin and Buda ranked really low. Curious to find out how toxic the air is at your kid’s school? And how exactly did they manage to come up with these numbers?
USA TODAY tracked the path of industrial pollution at over 127,000 schools across America using an EPA model:
“To assess how those emissions affect the air outside nearby schools, USA TODAY partnered with researchers from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst’s Political Economy Research Institute. After more than two years of effort, the researchers obtained data from an EPA model known as the Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators, which scores chemicals based on their potential danger. The model also uses information about industrial facilities – such as the height of its smokestacks and the way each chemical disperses in the air – to estimate where concentrations of the chemicals they release will be highest. The model allows the EPA to assess pollution’s impact on every square kilometer of the nation, and the agency uses that information to help identify potential problems spots. The University of Massachusetts researchers used those findings to produce lists of chemicals that contributed to the air toxicity at each of the nation’s 127,800 schools in 2005, the most recent year for which the EPA has completed its model.”
What would you do if your school’s ranking came in really low? Pack up and move? How do you even begin to fight for cleaner air? Luckily, there is a Q&A section to help with some of those questions.