Air Quality in Your Community - North Charleston
Schools are at the heart of every community. Children spend most of their time in or near a school and schools are typically located in residential neighborhoods and high-traffic areas. DHEC is working to make sure the air around schools is safe and healthy.
In North Charleston, many large industrial sites are located near communities with schools. DHEC formed a partnership with the schools, community leaders and industries to share information and to look for ways to go beyond the regulations to improve air quality in the North Charleston area.
School Monitoring Initiative
In partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), DHEC is monitoring for air toxics around Chicora Elementary School. Air toxics are hazardous air pollutants that can cause harmful health or environmental effects. Air toxics near schools are typically from automobile exhaust, gasoline vapors, and emissions from some dry cleaners, printing shops, and large industrial plants. Chicora Elementary was chosen for the study because it is located near a variety of pollution sources – cars, trucks, and buses on the highway and interstate, fueling stations, dry cleaners, and large industries. For more information, please visit Monitoring Air in North Charleston or EPA's Assessing Outdoor Air Near Schools webpage.
Reducing Pollution from Cars, Trucks, and Buses
In North Charleston, cars, trucks, and buses are significant sources of air pollution, including air toxics. Around schools, air pollution levels from vehicles may rise to unsafe levels as bus drivers and parents allow their vehicles to idle while they wait to pick up children.
Breathe Better (B2), an anti-idling/clean air campaign is one way DHEC is working with schools to reduce air toxics and other types of air pollution from idling vehicles. The program assists schools in educating parents and bus drivers about the problems with idling, posting signs on campus, and making anti-idling a standard policy at the school.
Schools can also consider ways to reduce vehicle traffic by encouraging carpooling, walking, biking, and riding the school bus rather than traveling in single-family vehicles. The B2 program may bring the following benefits to the school community:
- Reduced vehicle emissions
- Reduced respiratory problems
- Air quality awareness and education
- Reduced traffic volume on and around school campus
- Positive behavioral changes
Several Charleston County schools are currently participating in B2. DHEC and the Charleston County School District are partnering to expand B2 throughout Charleston County. Find out if your child's school is participating in this program, and if not, please contact Debra Briggs-Monroe by phone at (803)898-3752 or by email for information.
Indoor Air Quality
Reducing air emissions from mobile sources around schools benefits the air you breathe inside schools since vehicle exhaust, air pollution, and other asthma triggers can be drawn into the air intake vents and accumulate inside the building. DHEC doesn't regulate indoor air quality, but we recognize that indoor air pollution may be a concern at some schools. We have created a webpage with answers to some of your questions about indoor air. You can also find more information about indoor air quality on EPA's webpage. Some Lowcountry schools have been recognized by EPA's Tools for Schools Program for demonstrating a strong commitment to improving children's health by promoting good indoor air quality practices.
For more information please contact the Bureau of Air Quality at (803) 898-4123 or by email.