"In spite of the substantial evidence of air-pollution risks to children who attend schools near large roadways including lung problems, asthma attacks and heightened absenteeism policymakers at both the state and federal levels ducked the issue in recent years, records and interviews show.
The risks were squarely presented. At about the same time in 2008 and 2009, independent groups of officials meeting in Olympia and Washington, D.C., considered and then rejected the notion of banning or severely restricting construction of schools inside the pollution plume emanating up to 500 feet from major roadways.
That lack of action means schools in Washington and across the country continue to be built near the nation's biggest and busiest roads, despite compelling evidence that roadway pollution can set kids' health back for life.
"It's common sense, you'd think that common sense would prevail," said Steve Fischbach, a Rhode Island lawyer who advised the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency during the federal process. "But the number of bad examples shows us that poor siting decisions still go on.""