Published as FDNM letter to the editor “Regulate polluters” 4/24/2010.
by Natasha Ruppert, president of Woodriver Elementary PTA, Fairbanks
To the editor:
The Woodriver Parent Teacher Association would like to express our concern regarding the poor winter air quality at our school. The air quality inside and outside of our school has been alarmingly bad during the past two winters.
There is a substantial body of literature illustrating the effect of fresh air and physical activity on improved cognitive function. Because of the hazardous air quality, children are frequently kept indoors for recess, or exposed to unhealthy particulate levels.
Moreover, smoke from nearby boilers is frequently noticeable within the hallways of Woodriver Elementary School.
The long-term effects of exposure to poor air quality range from increased probability of respiratory illness to cancer. In the short-term, children and staff with asthma and allergies are put at risk and many are burdened with sore throats and burning eyes.
The borough community should not compromise the health of young children in our ongoing deliberations on air-quality issues. Surely, the long-term expenses that will result from illnesses caused by exposing small children to hazardous air quality far outweigh the short-term costs of regulating or removing gross polluters near schools.
Nurses, physical education teachers and principals should not have to weigh the benefits of fresh air and exercise against “how bad the air is on any given day.”
We encourage the borough to consider regulation of gross polluters near school zones.