Toxic Air Outside Schools

The air outside many Lansing schools contains toxic chemicals, according to a USA Today special report.

"There are a lot of emissions being put into the air near these schools," says Robert McCann, of Michigan's Department of Environmental Quality.

Researchers studied the air quality at more than 100,000 schools across the country, determining how many toxic chemicals are present in the air. They found some Lansing schools had more toxic chemicals in the air than two-thirds of the schools they tested.

Local schools with the highest levels? Bingham Elementary, Pattengill Middle School, and Moores Park School. Researchers say that's because of emissions from nearby plants and factories.

"What that doesn't take into consideration is the fact of wind patterns," McCann points out. "Where does the wind effectively blow these chemicals? It may very well be blowing it in the complete opposite direction of the school."

McCann says the study certainly raises air quality awareness, but says the levels of chemicals researchers found are, at this point, not dangerous.

"Of our knowledge, no, there's no reason to be any more alarmed than we are about the air in our homes or the air anywhere," McCann says.

But Pediatrician Kenneth Stringer points out ingesting even a small amount of these chemicals could still be harmful to kids.

"Children are undergoing the process of developing, both neurologically and physically," Stringer says. "We want to maximize the environment they're in, so we can maximize their learning capabilities."

But, he says, the damage done would be much worse, if the air inside the school was toxic.

"They're having outside time on the playground, but that's a very small amount of time during their educational day, so I don't think there's cause for parents to be panicked," says Stringer.


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