Indoor as well as outdoor air pollution that result from motor vehicle emissions and other pollutants has an adverse impact on the health of the children at the elementary school level (Smith, Samet, Romieu & Bruce, 2000). Various studies carried out in major towns since 1992 with significantly high levels of air pollution indicate that there is some correlation between the exposure of a child to emissions for a long time and contraction of some health problems.
Common Health Problems Associated with Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollution
It has been concluded that continuous inhalation of the emissions leads to the aggravation of asthma in children. According to California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board (2010), for the children who have already developed asthma, the exposure to the air pollutants for a long time increases their chance of bronchitis development. The exposure to air pollution is also a major cause of lung function deficits that are reversible, lower level of lung function as well as the reduction in the rate of the lung growth (Smith et al., 2000).
Why children are more vulnerable to the effects of these air pollutants
Juveniles fall victims to pollution because the toddlers have a higher breathing rate and tend to spend a higher amount of time in outdoor activities that are strenuous relative to the adults (Smith et al., 2000). Children are also in a development stage of the lungs and therefore more susceptible to the pollutants when compared to the adults whose lungs have attained full maturity (Kulkarni & Grigg, 2008).
Program that will reduce the Exposure of this Elementary School Community to Air Pollution
Smith et al., (2000) explain that the community can undertake preventative measures to reduce the pollution impact in children. School management should ensure that strenuous activities in schools including sports and physical education are not scheduled in hours where the traffic is likely to be at its peak. During the peak traffic hours, there is a high concentration of the emissions from the motor vehicles. If the physical classes have been set for such times of high traffic, then they should be changed to avoid exposing the children to the air pollutants. According to Smith et al., (2000), children are more likely to develop asthma by participating in physical activities in places with high concentration of air pollutants and therefore avoiding the activities during peak traffic hours is effective for schools that are located near the roads.
Kulkarni and Grigg (2008) claim that the management in the schools should also consider changing the layout of the sites such as changing the location of the classrooms and situate them far away from the roadway. The nearer the classrooms are to the road, the higher the concentration of air pollutants from the motor vehicle emissions (California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board, 2010). The other step that the community can take in reducing the exposure of the children to the air pollutants is upgrading the filtration systems that are in the classrooms as a way of ensuring that the children breathe fresh air. As part of the preventive measures, the teachers should train the children on the importance of ventilation and indoor air quality so that they can avoid spending most of their time in areas where there is likely to be a high concentration of the pollutants (Smith et al., 2000). Another step that can be taken by the community where the school is located near a road is installing vegetative or solid barriers that can block a significant amount of the pollutants from getting into the school compound (Smith et al., 2000).
Conclusively, the community may not have the power to control the emissions from the motor vehicles but have the capability of implementing some preventive measures that mitigate pollution exposure towards juveniles.
California Environmental Protection Agency, Air Resources Board (2010). The Children’s Health Study. Retrieved Dec 18, 2016, from http://www.arb.ca.gov/research/chs/chs.htm7
Kulkarni, N., & Grigg, J. (2008). Effect of air pollution on children. Paediatrics and Child Health, 18(5), 238-243.
Smith, K. R., Samet, J. M., Romieu, I., & Bruce, N. (2000). Indoor air pollution in developing countries and acute lower respiratory infections in children. Thorax, 55(6), 518-532.