Reducing Children’s Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution: Evaluating Policies and Strategies Used by Texas School Districts
Children are most vulnerable to the effects of traffic-related air pollution because of their developing respiratory systems, amount of time spent outdoors, and faster rates of breathing. As one of the largest states in the U.S. in terms of both total population and number of children, Texas is a particularly important place for studying policies and strategies used by school districts to reduce children’s exposure to vehicular pollution. No previous study had examined how public school districts in Texas are attempting to mitigate the effects of traffic-related air pollution on children’s health. This thesis sought to address this knowledge gap by conducting an online structured survey of public school district superintendents in Texas and providing new insights regarding their level of concern for traffic-related air pollution, the practices or policies currently being adopted for traffic pollution mitigation, and the challenges or barriers they face for reducing vehicular pollution in their district. Results indicate that 90% of superintendents did not consider traffic-related air pollution to be a problem in their district and a large majority were also not concerned with traffic-related air pollution causing health problems for students. The most widely adopted practices and policies across Texas school districts included the use of mechanical ventilation such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems and anti-idling policies for buses. More than 20% of superintendents indicated that the fiscal budget of the district limited the ways the district could mitigate traffic-related air pollution. School districts with lower levels of concern for traffic-related air pollution were more likely to adopt anti-idling policies for buses, as well as upgrading and retrofitting of buses in their district. These districts with lower concern were also characterized by relatively smaller numbers of students, teachers, student-teacher ratios, as well as lower fiscal budgets and expenditures. The knowledge gained from this study can be expected to initiate policy changes to reduce children’s exposure to vehicular pollution in school districts, within and beyond Texas.
Sociology|Education finance|Educational administration|Education Policy|Public health|Environmental Justice
Schwanke, Laura, "Reducing Children’s Exposure to Traffic-Related Pollution: Evaluating Policies and Strategies Used by Texas School Districts" (2022). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI29210376.