I love Walk to School Day. It makes less pollution in the air. It is healthy for you.
– Student, California
When families decide to lace up their sneakers or strap on their bike helmets to get to school instead of riding in a car, they help reduce the amount of air pollutants emitted by automobiles.
Vehicles emit a variety of air pollutants, resulting in increases in ground-level ozone, nitrogen oxides and particulate matter such as particles of dust, soot, smoke, dirt and liquid droplets. To learn more about the health risks of pollution, visit www.epa.gov/air/toxicair/newtoxics.html.
What to know before you go:
Consult the Air Quality Index
The more people who walk or bicycle, the better off our air quality will become… but until we change our commuting habits, the mix of pollutants in the air requires us to take caution. Parents should check the Air Quality Index forecast each day to help protect children from poor air quality. Visit AirNow for local air quality forecasts and real-time maps. On bad air quality days, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) encourages everyone to drive less and to walk, bike or ride public transportation. However, those who suffer from respiratory illnesses like asthma should not walk or ride on these days.
Pick the route with the least traffic
Children may be exposed to higher levels of air pollution near roadways with heavy traffic. If possible, try to find routes with less traffic volume.