Tapestry shouldn’t open school near expressway
The article in the April 24 News, “Many of D.C.’s poor children struggle with asthma,” echoes a similar debate happening in Buffalo. Tapestry Charter School has found a location to expand, but the problem for many parents, myself included, is that their children would be attending school within 500 feet of the Kensington Expressway. By definition, this environmental “hot spot” would expose students to increased risk for impaired lung development, asthma onset and aggravation, and other health risks, including heart disease and cancer.
The American Lung Association “recognizes that the air along busy highways often has pollution levels that are much higher than are safe for children or adults to breathe, whether or not they have asthma.” The American Academy of Pediatrics advises school sites “should include consideration of proximity to roads with heavy traffic” and “new schools be located to avoid hot spots of localized pollution.” Tufts University recently published its long-term research project on the risk of breathing polluted air from high traffic area, “The Community Assessment of Freeway Exposure and Health.”
How much weight will Tapestry trustees give the volumes of scientific study and recommendations from virtually every public health organization as they make their decision? The benefits of the proposed location are enticing – it has the needed square footage, is available immediately and the price is right. But will the disadvantages, increased health risk for a population already suffering from some of the highest asthma rates in the county, tip the scale?