What Not To Do


Childhood leukemia, anyone? See the comprehensive study on traffic pollution below. The intended new consolidated elementary “green” school at the intersection of the congested, high traffic thruways WV 705 & US 119 is sick, sick, sick.

Also see: Asthma Elementary and No Health and Safety and The Road to Charleston and Damaging Children for Life.
from All Choked Up

a 2007 traffic pollution and health study by the Environmental Defense Fund:

Health consequences of traffic: A compelling science story

Science has long shown that air pollution from trucks and cars is bad for health. To date, federal air pollution regulations have tended to focus on regional or city-wide pollution targets, rather than street-level exposures. In the last decade, a growing number of researchers around the world have examined the actual street-level exposures to air pollution. This science points to local health risks more severe than ambient air pollution measures would suggest.

A critical mass of scientific evidence shows a health risk zone close to major roadways. The risk zone extends from about 500 to 1500 feet, varying by pollutant and health effect… The core scientific studies that point to the health implications outlined in this report are divided into two categories. Some studies measure the actual street-level air pollutant exposures; others document the impaired health of people living close to roads. The health effects seen with greater intensity closer to busy roads include cancer, heart disease, impaired childhood lung development, asthma attacks and lung disease in adults.

The risk zone

Over the last ten years, there has been an accumulation of public health studies showing that air pollution exposure levels are greater close to roadways than are typically reported through regional air pollution measurements. There will always be some variability, because traffic pollution is affected by the mix of vehicles on a roadway, wind and weather, topography, and the buildings around the roads. Congestion itself has an effect: Stop-and-go traffic releases as much as three times the pollution of free-flowing traffic.

Dr. Ying Zhou and Dr. Jonathan Levy, researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH), recently synthesized much of the related research from the last decade. They concluded that there is a zone of increased exposures surrounding major roadways, i.e. an area in which increased health risks would be expected. The synthesis was based on 30 peer-reviewed studies and three government regulatory reports that characterized how air pollution levels and health risks changed with distance from a roadway. It identified the factors that would potentially influence the findings, including distance from the road, type of pollutant, emission rates, background pollution concentrations, and meteorological conditions. Zhou and Levy concluded that the size of the area around the road where pollution levels were noticeably higher varied by pollutant. For the following three traffic related pollutants known to cause health problems, they summarized the distance from the road where levels are high enough to increase health risks.

· Particulate matter (soot from gasoline or diesel): 500 to 1500 feet

· Nitrogen dioxide (NO2): 600 to 1500 feet

· Ultrafine particle count (the smallest soot particles): 300 to 1000 feet Taking all the different traffic-related pollutants as a whole, a risk zone of 500 to 1500 feet around a major roadway is supported by this meta-study.

FIGURE 1 — Traffic spreads pollution up to 1500 feet from the roadway

FIGURE 2 — Health findings near traffic

Multiple health risks

Recent research has also inferred that there are increased health risks and harmful health effects within the pollutant dispersion zone. Researchers have looked at different groups of people, health effects, and distances from the roadway. Studies of men, women and children all show increased health risks associated with job-related and residential proximity to a busy road. As a whole, the traffic and health studies present a wide range of health effects. Most commonly studied have been asthma and lung disease (especially in children), and heart disease. Traffic emissions, and especially diesel soot, are widely implicated in triggering asthma attacks and impairing lung function. Some studies have found associations between traffic-related exposures and stroke, cancers, including childhood leukemia, and adverse reproductive outcomes. Outlined below is some of the recent science:

· Childhood Respiratory Consequences: Children are especially vulnerable to the effects of traffic-related air pollution; studies show increased prevalence of asthma, respiratory symptoms, and stunted lung development.  A key study from 2005 found that the risk of asthma increased 89% for each quarter-mile closer children lived to a major roadway; the follow-up 2007 study found decreased lung air flow function for children living within about 1500 feet of a major roadway.

· Cancer Risks: Higher exposure to traffic emissions was associated with increased risk of breast cancer among women in Erie and Niagara Counties of New York State. A study in Stockholm found a 40% increase in lung cancer risk for the group with the highest average traffic-related NO2 exposure. A Danish study reported rates of Hodgkin’s disease increasing by 51% in children whose mothers were exposed to higher levels of NO2 during pregnancy. Although some studies have not shown associations, some studies have shown links between traffic and cancer.

· Heart Disease: A Los Angeles study found that if researchers more accurately estimate exposures, based on localized rather than ambient air pollution levels, estimates of risk of death from heart attacks triple. Another study from Worcester, Massachusetts found a five percent increased risk of acute heart attack for each kilometer closer a subject lived to a major roadway.

· Dangerous Diesel Concentrations: Multiple studies have found serious health effects from exposure to heavy-duty diesel trucks, including increased mortality rates. Diesel emissions on busy roads have been associated with triggering asthma attacks, and may play a role in the initial onset of asthma.

Many researchers have published findings of significant health effects related to proximity to traffic. The studies differ in selection of sample, groups, exposure indicators, and other variables. Taken as a whole, these studies show effects from 300 feet to as far as 1500 feet [90-450 meters] away from busy traffic. …


Fortunately, solutions to this [traffic pollution and health] challenge exist, and in many cases, real-world examples of success point the way forward. There are essentially three different types of solutions: 1) Incentives, like congestion pricing, that encourage less driving at congested times and finance new transit; 2) Clean-vehicle technologies, especially targeting the oldest and dirtiest engines; and 3) Land-use rules and developer incentives that reduce the need to drive, and separate schools, homes and other sensitive populations from heavy traffic. A part of the solution must also be to continue refining the science with air pollution monitoring programs at the local level. …

The role of siting and design

The American Academy of Pediatrics wrote in 2004: “Siting of school and childcare facilities should include consideration of proximity to roads with heavy traffic and other sources of air pollution. New schools should be located to avoid ‘hot spots’ of localized pollution. In some places, government policy reflects this concern. For example, the science of impacts on children’s health motivated the state of California to prohibit the siting of schools within 500 feet of a highway.

Childhood leukemia risk is increased by close proximity to gas stations and vehicle repair shops, of which the Mileground has about a dozen, just as the risk is increased by close proximity to highways:

Fuel Stations May Pose Child Cancer Risk
UK: August 20, 2004

LONDON – Living near a fuel station may quadruple the risk of acute
leukemia in children, research published yesterday showed.

French scientists who carried out a study of more than 500 infants found
that a child whose home was near a fuel station or vehicle-repair garage
was four times as likely to develop leukemia as a child whose home was
further away.

And the longer a child had lived nearby, the higher the risk of leukemia
seemed to be, showed the research, published in the Occupational and
Environmental Medicine journal.

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