Study finds spike in air pollution at Hamilton schools

Community Mar 30, 2017 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

A Hamilton study suggests parents who drive their kids to school aren’t just depriving them of exercise, but also helping make the air they and their classmates breathe far worse — especially in the winter.

Matthew Adams, a Ryerson University associate professor who oversaw the two-year study, said the findings are based on observations at 25 schools of varying size that found between 23 and 116 vehicles per day were dropping kids off in the morning.

From there, researchers used U.S. emissions testing data to predict the impact at 86 urban schools, taking into account weather patterns and typical driving behaviours like idling and periodic acceleration as parents queue up to drop children off.

Funded by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the study estimated the 86 schools added 4,500 vehicles to Hamilton’s morning traffic.

It then calculated the increase in fine dust particles known as PM 2.5s, which can cause respiratory problems like asthma because they get deep into the lungs.

Adams said despite a conservative approach, the study found PM 2.5s rose on average by about 50 per cent at the drop-off point, slightly less than 20 per cent at the door and minimally at the playground.

But those averages hid some more alarming results, he told a Fresh Air Kids event celebrating efforts by students at 14 public and Catholic elementary schools to cut their exposure to air pollution, like walking more and avoiding traffic-congested routes.

Adams said PM 2.5 levels were double normal concentrations about five per cent of the time and nearly 24 times higher in the most extreme case — the type leading people to wear masks in smoggy areas of China.

But he said winter proved to be worst period in general, with an increase of 30 microns per cubed metre of air on top of the Hamilton average of 7.5.

“If it was 30 in Hamilton, we would have very big pollution issues,” Adams said. “There would be red lights going off everywhere. People would be very concerned.”

Adams said the study only examined morning drop-offs, and pollution in the afternoon is likely worse because parents tend to idle cars longer while waiting for their kids.

He said ideally students should walk to school whenever possible, but there are some simple steps parents can take cut their car pollution, like parking farther away from the school and walking with their children for the last few hundred metres.

School boards can also stop putting school-bus and car drop-off areas close to where students play, he said, and discourage parents from driving in circles as they await their turn to drop off kids.

“We looked at one pollutant. What we know is there’s a suite of pollutants coming out of the tail pipe. They’re all going to have effects,” Adams said. “This is a behavioural issue. We can change people’s behaviour.”

Study finds spike in air pollution at Hamilton schools

Morning car drop-offs increase harmful dust particles that get deep in lungs

Community Mar 30, 2017 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

A Hamilton study suggests parents who drive their kids to school aren’t just depriving them of exercise, but also helping make the air they and their classmates breathe far worse — especially in the winter.

Matthew Adams, a Ryerson University associate professor who oversaw the two-year study, said the findings are based on observations at 25 schools of varying size that found between 23 and 116 vehicles per day were dropping kids off in the morning.

From there, researchers used U.S. emissions testing data to predict the impact at 86 urban schools, taking into account weather patterns and typical driving behaviours like idling and periodic acceleration as parents queue up to drop children off.

Funded by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the study estimated the 86 schools added 4,500 vehicles to Hamilton’s morning traffic.

“This is a behavioural issue. We can change people’s behaviour.”

It then calculated the increase in fine dust particles known as PM 2.5s, which can cause respiratory problems like asthma because they get deep into the lungs.

Adams said despite a conservative approach, the study found PM 2.5s rose on average by about 50 per cent at the drop-off point, slightly less than 20 per cent at the door and minimally at the playground.

But those averages hid some more alarming results, he told a Fresh Air Kids event celebrating efforts by students at 14 public and Catholic elementary schools to cut their exposure to air pollution, like walking more and avoiding traffic-congested routes.

Adams said PM 2.5 levels were double normal concentrations about five per cent of the time and nearly 24 times higher in the most extreme case — the type leading people to wear masks in smoggy areas of China.

But he said winter proved to be worst period in general, with an increase of 30 microns per cubed metre of air on top of the Hamilton average of 7.5.

“If it was 30 in Hamilton, we would have very big pollution issues,” Adams said. “There would be red lights going off everywhere. People would be very concerned.”

Adams said the study only examined morning drop-offs, and pollution in the afternoon is likely worse because parents tend to idle cars longer while waiting for their kids.

He said ideally students should walk to school whenever possible, but there are some simple steps parents can take cut their car pollution, like parking farther away from the school and walking with their children for the last few hundred metres.

School boards can also stop putting school-bus and car drop-off areas close to where students play, he said, and discourage parents from driving in circles as they await their turn to drop off kids.

“We looked at one pollutant. What we know is there’s a suite of pollutants coming out of the tail pipe. They’re all going to have effects,” Adams said. “This is a behavioural issue. We can change people’s behaviour.”

Study finds spike in air pollution at Hamilton schools

Morning car drop-offs increase harmful dust particles that get deep in lungs

Community Mar 30, 2017 by Richard Leitner Hamilton Mountain News

A Hamilton study suggests parents who drive their kids to school aren’t just depriving them of exercise, but also helping make the air they and their classmates breathe far worse — especially in the winter.

Matthew Adams, a Ryerson University associate professor who oversaw the two-year study, said the findings are based on observations at 25 schools of varying size that found between 23 and 116 vehicles per day were dropping kids off in the morning.

From there, researchers used U.S. emissions testing data to predict the impact at 86 urban schools, taking into account weather patterns and typical driving behaviours like idling and periodic acceleration as parents queue up to drop children off.

Funded by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, the study estimated the 86 schools added 4,500 vehicles to Hamilton’s morning traffic.

“This is a behavioural issue. We can change people’s behaviour.”

It then calculated the increase in fine dust particles known as PM 2.5s, which can cause respiratory problems like asthma because they get deep into the lungs.

Adams said despite a conservative approach, the study found PM 2.5s rose on average by about 50 per cent at the drop-off point, slightly less than 20 per cent at the door and minimally at the playground.

But those averages hid some more alarming results, he told a Fresh Air Kids event celebrating efforts by students at 14 public and Catholic elementary schools to cut their exposure to air pollution, like walking more and avoiding traffic-congested routes.

Adams said PM 2.5 levels were double normal concentrations about five per cent of the time and nearly 24 times higher in the most extreme case — the type leading people to wear masks in smoggy areas of China.

But he said winter proved to be worst period in general, with an increase of 30 microns per cubed metre of air on top of the Hamilton average of 7.5.

“If it was 30 in Hamilton, we would have very big pollution issues,” Adams said. “There would be red lights going off everywhere. People would be very concerned.”

Adams said the study only examined morning drop-offs, and pollution in the afternoon is likely worse because parents tend to idle cars longer while waiting for their kids.

He said ideally students should walk to school whenever possible, but there are some simple steps parents can take cut their car pollution, like parking farther away from the school and walking with their children for the last few hundred metres.

School boards can also stop putting school-bus and car drop-off areas close to where students play, he said, and discourage parents from driving in circles as they await their turn to drop off kids.

“We looked at one pollutant. What we know is there’s a suite of pollutants coming out of the tail pipe. They’re all going to have effects,” Adams said. “This is a behavioural issue. We can change people’s behaviour.”