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New research shows air quality around schools isn't great

(Mike Lloyd, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Expert says there may be bits of your car's brakes in the air

The air can be up about 50 per cent dirtier in idling zones around schools

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – With children back in school, have you ever stopped to think what the air quality is in the drop-off/pick-up zone with so many cars idling every morning and afternoon.

There is brand new research out of Toronto that shows just how dirty things can get and there’s a big difference.

The air can be up to 50 per cent dirtier in those idling zones than in it would be in the middle of a field, says University of Toronto Geography Professor Matthew Adams, who is behind the new research. “Particularly when the air is stagnant. There’s no wind. It’s not pushing the pollution away. It can be similar to standing within maybe 100 metres of a freeway.”

He explains what’s in the air. “We looked at particulate matter, which are particles generated from the exhaust but also they’re from tire wear and brake ware. So, as you brake, little pieces of the brake pad go into the air.”

Adams says in some cases the air can be really bad. “In many of these schools, there is a kindergarten play area where the students wait before school. So, you have the idling vehicles there as well as idling buses — they’re some of the greatest risk because of where they are in the morning.”

He encourages parents to park a few blocks away from your child’s school and then walk the rest of the way.