Freeways clog traffic and student lungs

Janelle Green

In 2003, a state law was passed to prohibit school districts from building campuses within 500 feet of a freeway because of the high pollutants in such an area.

There are two exceptions to the law. The first states that a school may open less than 500 feet from the high-traffic road if the district can either prove that there is no other option due to highly limited space, or if they can drastically reduce the pollution that is known to harm the lungs of those who breathe in the toxins.

Although the law is still valid, the Los Angeles Unified School District is determined to add seven new schools near freeways; all clearly breaking the law.

“There are plenty of other areas to build a school,” said Tia Reed, 18, business administration. “This law is a good idea. It’s smart and it’s not asking too much.”

However, L.A. is not the only disobedient city. Orange County has many campuses that are on the verge of breaking this law.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District states that 2.3 percent of public schools in California are located within 500 feet of freeways. These schools are considered too close for comfort.

“Saddleback is pretty polluted,” said Chris Parr, 28, business. “It’s too close to [Interstate 5].”

According to a combined study from UCLA and USC known as the Children’s Health Study, children who live near a freeway are more likely to suffer from decreased lung function compared to those who do not live near one.

Because the most harmful pollutants that surround the freeways are too small to filter, the result from inhaling them is sometimes unknown. The concequences for breaking the law only hurt the children who are oblivious to the fact that they are attending school a in a danger zone.

“It’s cheaper to break the law than it is to build somewhere else,” Reed said. “The school districts don’t think that abiding by the law is worth the hassle, or the money, and people are not complaining enough.”

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