It has been shown that the location of schools near heavily trafficked roads can have detrimental effects on the health of children attending those schools. It is therefore desirable to screen both existing school locations and potential new school sites to assess either the need for remedial measures or suitability for the intended use. Current screening tools and public guidance on school siting are either too coarse in their spatial resolution for assessing individual sites or are highly resource intensive in their execution (e.g., through dispersion modeling). We propose a new method to help bridge the gap between these two approaches. Using this method, we also examine the public K-12 schools in the Sacramento Area Council of Governments Region, California (USA) from an environmental justice perspective. We find that PM2.5
emissions from road traffic affecting a school site are significantly positively correlated with the following metrics: percent share of Black, Hispanic and multi-ethnic students, percent share of students eligible for subsidized meals. The emissions metric correlates negatively with the schools’ Academic Performance Index, the share of White students and average parental education levels. Our PM2.5
metric also correlates with the traffic related, census tract level screening indicators from the California Communities Environmental Health Screening Tool and the tool’s tract level rate of asthma related emergency department visits.
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