Air pollution brings increased risk for asthma attacks

For most kids, the start of the school year is an exciting time, filled with fun, friends and new adventures. But for kids with asthma, the new school year can come with serious health challenges.
This is because the trip back to class often brings with it a variety of asthma triggers that may lead to asthma attacks. These triggers can include emotional stress and anxiety, new sports routines and indoor and outdoor allergens.

 
The amount of pollution in our air is a major contributor to asthma attacks. Exposure to smog is dangerous for kids, especially since they are still growing and generally spend more time outdoors than adults. Dirty air can interfere with lung development and increase the risk of lung infections in all children, and the health risks are far greater for children with asthma. Currently, approximately 6.3 million children suffer from asthma, and the condition ranks as one of the leading causes of missed school days.

 
Smog is formed when heat and sunlight react with pollution – much of which is released from vehicle tailpipes. Consider where your own children attend school. Is there a long line of parents idling their vehicles as they wait to drop off their children? Are there idling buses near the school entrance? All of those idling vehicles release emissions that are dangerous for children and can exacerbate asthma.
The good news is that since we are a part of the air pollution problem at school, we can also be a part of the solution. By simply making a commitment to refrain from idling on school grounds, we can help reduce the emissions that lead to poor air quality and ultimately help students breathe easier.

 

Area schools are also encouraged to get involved in the clean air effort by placing “no idle” signs in their drop-off lanes and parking lots. FREE signs are available to schools by contacting Susannah Fuchs with the Clean Air Partnership via email at [email protected] To learn more, click here.

 
For information about additional steps you can take to help improve air quality, we encourage you to explore the tips page (link to page) of our website. We also encourage you to like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.

Back to school tips for cleaner air

With the summer season over, children across the region are now settling into their back-to-school routines. If you’re one of the many parents who drive their children to school each day, now is a great time to consider other transportation options that can help reduce the emissions that lead to air pollution, while also helping to improve lung health across the St. Louis area.

The following tips can help make the school commute a more air quality-friendly one:

Walk or bike to class: For kids that live close to school, walking and biking are great commuting options that also offer an opportunity to get some exercise, whenever weather and air quality conditions are favorable.

Encourage the kids to ride the bus: For those who live near a school bus route, the bus can offer an eco-friendly way to get to class, especially as more districts purchase lower pollution buses.

Share the ride to school: If driving to school is the only option for getting there, work with neighbors to organize carpools to reduce emissions and also help parents and students save money on gas.

• Avoid unnecessary idling: Idling engines produce toxic pollution that is known to cause serious health concerns. Exposure to car exhaust can also aggravate asthma symptoms. And with asthma ranking as the most common chronic illness in children, vehicle idling can be especially harmful to kids. When dropping the kids off, avoid idling parking lots, bus and carpool lanes and delivery areas.

At back to school time, and year-round, parents and kids can access a wealth of air quality information and tips to help them do their share for cleaner air on the Clean Air Partnership website. Additional air quality tips and information can also be found on our Facebook page and on Twitter @gatewaycleanair.