Why is this important?
Traffic-related air pollution has serious impacts on children’s health. Traffic pollution contributes to 2.7 million acute respiratory symptom days, 210,000 asthma symptom days and 3,600 child acute bronchitis episodes every year in Canada (Government of Canada, 2022a). Exposure to traffic pollution causes the development and worsening of asthma symptoms in children and lung cancer in adults, may worsen allergies, can reduce lung function and may cause childhood leukemia. Air pollution from traffic has also been linked to heart disease and many other health impacts. Air pollution also increases susceptibility to respiratory infections (Government of Canada, 2022b). Children are not only more sensitive to air pollution but they have increased potential exposure given that a large proportion of schools are located within 200m of high traffic roadways (Government of Canada, 2022c).
What actions can we take?
- Locate children’s activities away from parking areas during drop-off and pick-up times.
- If drop-off and parking areas are located near the outdoor play areas, move outdoor play to other areas of the centre during the busy pick-up and drop-off times, including rush hour traffic if you are close to a busy roadway.
- If doors and windows open onto the parking areas, close these windows during the pick-up and drop-off times.
- Locate children’s outdoor play areas as far from sources of traffic pollution as possible.
- Establish a no idling policy that prohibits vehicle idling, posts ‘No idling’ signs, and provides client families with educational resources.
- Take measures to prevent vehicle exhaust entering the centre through air intake vents, the entrance door and/or windows.
- Take steps to reduce the centre’s contribution to traffic pollution by encouraging the use of public transit and sustainable, active transportation by staff and/or families (see Sustainability and Climate Action section)