Freeway Living Is The Fast Lane to Childhood Illnesses

BY ON October 24, 2011

Hazy highway through the mountains

My daughter enters kindergarten next year, so that means we are now in the season of school tours and trying to navigate the application system. I thought my only concern would be finding a thriving dual immersion program in a good community. I won’t negotiate on her not being raised bilingual and biliterate. We are renters. We kept it that way so we have the flexibility to move anywhere within the greater Los Angeles area. That way we can find a school that fits our needs.

Little did I imagine, I would also be considering the air quality in and around the school, especially how close the school is to a major freeway. Since we’re also house hunting, the close-to-a-freeway concern has become even more of an issue. Los Angeles is a pulsating city with a vast network of transportation systems including: freeways, ports, airports, trains and metro lines. All of these systems produce ultra fine particles that are so tiny (nano, in fact), they can even seep through sealed windows and dangerously enter our lungs, causing many serious health conditions, including asthma and heart problems. Since the transportation system in Los Angeles, as in most major cities, is so widespread, it is getting harder and harder to find a place that is within safe distance of this type of pollution.

In fact, through this observation and the investigation, I learned the house we presently live in is not far enough from the freeway to be safe. In 2009, environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought–1.5 miles away. Plus, it is more windy in the morning, and if you live downhill from a freeway, you are more affected.

Massive highway systemAs a member of the Moms Clean Air Force, I am passionate about pointing out the ill-effects from air pollution contamination that poses serious health risks, especially among children whose lungs are barely developing. Also, Latinos as a group, densely populate major cities and live in areas with high environmental and industrial pollutants. Other serious consequences are lung cancer (almost the same risk as second hand smoke), heart disease, brain damage, and an overall shorter life span.

3 Things You Can Do If You Live Near a Major Freeway

1. Keep the windows closed.

2. Don’t exercise outdoors in the morning hours.

3. Make your voice heard. Join the Moms Clean Air Force and help us fight for your children’s right to live pollution-free.

TOPICS: Asthma, Latino Community, Pollution