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Toolkit for Parents
Innovative Tree Barrier Project to Reduce Children's Exposure to Vehicle Pollution
On Thursday, March 14, approximately 40 students and Girl Scouts at Radloff Middle School in Gwinnett County, along with the school’s esteemed namesake, Ms. Louise Radloff, Principal Al Taylor, and Assistant Principals Chris Corbitt and Dr. Alicia Jackson, joined Mothers & Others for Clean Air and Trees Atlanta to plant 10 Eastern red cedar trees to reduce particle pollution on school grounds. This tree planting was the first in an innovative project to use vegetative barriers to reduce traffic-based pollution exposures at schools located very close to major roadways in metro Atlanta. Students learned about the health effects of ozone and fine particles and how to reduce their risk last week through a presentation provided by Mothers & Others for Clean Air. The school's teachers involved in the Environmental Club have embraced the project for its educational value, as well as the direct benefits provided by the trees.
Read Gwinnett Daily Post's article on the project.
The Kaiser Permanente-funded SMART Project
As part of a 2013 project funded by Kaiser Permanente called SMART (Students Managing Asthma and Reducing Triggers), M&O develop a partnership with the Institute of Public Health at Georgia State University and Trees Atlanta to mitigate road-based pollutant exposures on school campuses with vegetative barriers. The project team will enhance vegetative barriers at several Metro Atlanta schools in order to reduce student exposure to roadway pollutants and to educate students about roadway pollution risks and how to avoid these pollution "hotspots."
Many research studies have demonstrated a number of serious negative health effects associated with air pollution generated from traffic on roadways. Fine particles in car and truck exhaust are linked to many respiratory problems including asthma attacks and reduced lung growth in children. When inhaled, these tiny particles bypass our upper respiratory defenses and can cause abnormal heart rhythms, heart attack, stroke and even premature death. Diesel exhaust from semi-trucks and buses is harmful not only as a result of these particles but also as a result of more than 40 air toxics, including heavy metals, in the exhaust. Concentrations of tiny particulate matter tends to be highest close to the roadway, and most researchers agree concentrations are high within 150 meters of high-traffic roadways, and sometimes even further away.
A number of recent research studies point toward the potential of vegetative barriers to reduce concentrations of ultrafine particulate matter on sites and in communities directly adjacent to major roadways. Evergreen trees and shrubs, strategically placed, can facilitate deposition of particulate matter and associated toxics onto the surface area of the leaves or needles, reducing concentrations beyond the barrier.
View of the tree gap this project will address. Volunteers receive instructions from Trees Atlanta.
Teachers, students & volunteers get dirty! Principal Taylor and Ms. Radloff pose with a cedar.
Georgia School Siting Training Curriculum NOW AVAILABLE!
Do you have questions about proposed decisions affecting where children attend school? A school's location within a community affects transportation (and physical activity) options, air quality and children's health and wellness.
In 2010 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published voluntary guidelines for school siting. With financial support from EPA and the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Mothers & Others for Clean Air partnered with Georgia Conservancy and U.S. Green Building Council--Georgia Chapter to develop a training curriculum to help education leaders interpret and apply the new guidelines. With input from a team of planning, pediatric and environmental health experts, consulting firm Symbioscity distilled the guidelines into two engaging and interactive training modules. These modules are now available online, free of charge, and are designed for audiences including school board members, school districts administrators, community planners and others charged with making decisions about school renovations and expansions.
We would like to thank the many members of the expert advisory team who contributed to the school siting training curriculum, including the following representatives from M&O partner organizations: Roby Greenwald and Lyndsey Darrow with Emory’s Rollins School of Public Health; Dr. Robert Geller with the Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU); Dr. Anne Mellinger-Birdsong with the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Environmental Health Committee; and Stephanie Holden, parent and consultant in family engagement, Georgia PTA.
Download the three-hour workshop and User Guide.
Dowload the one-hour presentation.
Contact us for Powerpoint versions of the trainings.
M&O Teams Up With EPA To Provide Air Quality Training for Head Start Providers
Mothers & Others for Clean Air is teaming up with Fulton County Schools and Head Start Centers located in Fulton County to implement our AQI flag program. Together with Heidi LeSane, indoor air quality expert with EPA Region IV,we have provided trainings for Head Start Center Directors about teh health risks to children posed by indoor and outdoor air pollutants and how to reduce exposures at Head Start locations. Interested in learning more and participating? Contact us!
A young child is introduced to the AQI flags at the Clifton School's Clairemont Campus, where the teachers use the flags to talk with the children about the importance of healthy air, as well as a monitoring system designed to reduce their exposure to air pollution.
Masumi Hughes, Program Coordinator for New Generations Child Development Center, displays an orange flag and door sign corresponding to the "orange" ozone levels predicted for the day.
Sign Up For Our k-12 School AQI Flag Program!
School nurse Pam Barrientos [at right] at Rockbridge Elementary School in Gwinnett County shows off the school's new yellow flag, one of a set of four that schools receive, along with posters and training, when signing up to participate.
Why an Air Quality Index flag program?
Many school nurses, principals and teachers are concerned about high rates of asthma among students and faculty. They welcome the flag program as a way to ensure all staff, as well as parents who see the flag when dropping off their children, are aware when air pollution concentrations are high. Flying a flag that corresponds to the day’s air quality index—green, yellow, orange or red—makes air quality forecasts highly visible to the school community, including parents, faculty, staff and children. In addition, the flags are flown daily, in contrast to the smog alert system that only comes into play if the air is unhealthy. As a result, while taking precautions when the flag is orange or red, teachers and coaches can celebrate green days and use the green flag as a visual cue to get active outdoors when air quality is good.
Mothers & Others for Clean Air is expanding the AQI flag program to other metro Atlanta schools AND early childhood learning centers during the 2012-13 school year. Contact us if your school is interested in participating.
We are grateful to Kaiser Permanente and Fulton County Health Services for supporting this program!
School Air Quality Index Flag Program Flyer: Share it with your local school today!
Georgia's AQI FLag School List is Growing:
Atlanta Public Schools
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School—Elementary
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School—Middle School
B.E.S.T. Academy (6-8, and 9-12)
Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (6-8 and 9-12)
Centennial Place Elementary
City Schools of Decatur—Renfroe Middle School
Cobb County Schools
Cooper Middle (6-8)
Hayes Elementary School
King Springs Elementary
Lovinggood Middle School
McCall Primary (pre-k – 1)
DeKalb County Schools—Arabia Mountain High School
Gwinnett County Schools—Rockbridge Elementary
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School's nurse Leigh Hicks put together this great bulletin board dis(ANCS flies the flags, as well)play highlighting the school's use of Mothers & Others for Clean Air's AQI tools to reduce air pollution exposures and also its success implementing Clean Air Campaign's carpool idling reduction program.
King Springs Elementary School staff, parents and students launched the Mothers & Others for Clean Air AQI flag program at their school in 2011. Students at King Springs announce the AQI on the morning news show at school each day, and the school nurse, Margaret Jourdan, makes sure all staff members and families receive M&O's Guidance for Georgia Families:Outdoor Air Pollution and Physical Activity.
Ms. Carrier's sixth grade science class and school nurse Ms. Adair at Cooper Middle School in Austell put up a green flag with their students and discuss the AQI poster.
Hayes Elementary School nurse Margaret Hayden shows off the school's AQI poster that explains the flag colors to school staff and parents. Margaret says about 125 of the school's 1100 students have been diagnosed with asthma, so she welcomes the opportunity to implement the AQI flag program and make sure the entire school community is aware of daily changes in air quality.
A yellow flag flies above Centennial Place Elementary School on Luckie Street in Atlanta. School nurse Sharon Williams has publicized the program through the school's active PTA and the communication folders that reach every child's home.
Captain Scott Seely and Randy McCord attach and hoist an orange flag to alert the NPU-H community in Atlanta to the day's air quality index.
Idling Reduction at Georgia Schools
A good way to reduce students' direct exposure to vehicle exhaust during teh school day is to reduce idling on school campuses from cars and school buses.
School Bus Idling: Most school systems are taking steps to reduce school bus idling because of the rising cost of diesel fuel, but some parents still report they see drivers idling school buses—and exposing children to toxic diesel exhaust—when unnecessary. In addition, many schools have carpool lines where long periods of idling are common.
Georgia’s Department of Education (DOE) created Idling Guidelines for school bus drivers and integrated idling reduction strategies into the training provided to all drivers in 2009. DOE asks that parents who witness school bus idling record the bus number and location and time of the idling and contact the school system’s transportation director, rather than approaching the driver.
Carpool line idling: Many schools that are not easy walking or bicycling distance for students have long lines of cars delivering and collecting students. Some drivers may arrive early and leave teh car engine idling for long periods of time, emittingunhealth exhaust. For great resources to address this problem, including free signs marking "no idling" zones, browse the Clean Air Campaign’s Clean Air Schools program.
Indoor Air Pollution Resources
While the focus of Mothers & Others for Clean Air is improving outdoor air quality, indoor air quality also is a concern for some schools. The Environmental Protection Agency has developed a tool kit to help schools prevent and address conditions that contribute to poor indoor air quality. Tools for Schools has helped hundreds of schools implement indoor air quality improvements and is available free of charge.
The Southeast Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU) at Emory University provides local support for schools about creating and maintaining a safe and healthy learning environment. PEHSU is developing a set of training modules for schools that includes a module on indoor air quality. Contact PEHSU for information about participating in this training program as a pilot school or with specific questions about a particular issue or concern regarding environmental health at school.
Clean Air Schools
Find out how to make your school a Clean Air School through the Clean Air Campaign.
Captain Planet Foundation
Find out how to participate in the Planeteers Club program!
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