Air quality a new school of concern

Air quality: a new school of concern

Concerned about the consequences of poor air quality in schools, advocacy groups are “outraged” at the location of a new primary school to be built just tens of meters from the motorway.

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The new school, which is taking shape in Beauport and is yet to be named, is expected to accommodate 408 students and 50 staff and open for the start of the fall 2023 school year.

Good news for families in the area… Except that it will be on Avenue des Vents, less than a hundred meters from the Félix-Leclerc motorway.

“We’ve talked for years about the air quality in our schools being poor and now we’re going to install one next to the highway. That makes no sense! ’ plague Louis-Michel Langevin, who will have to send his daughter there against his will next year.

In 2021, the Quebec Association of Physicians for the Environment specifically indicated that building schools within 300 meters of a highway should be banned “due to the high emission of air pollutants”.

Health risks

High levels of these pollutants are linked to the development of asthma, autism, leukemia and intellectual disability in children, explains Santé Urbanité President Johanne Elsener.

Johanne Elsener, President of Santé Urbanité.

Photo provided by Johanne Elsener

Johanne Elsener, President of Santé Urbanité.

“It’s disgusting to risk exposing these kids to all these problems when we know them!” she laments.

The World Health Organization (WHO) target for particulate matter in the air is 5 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m3). However, the monitoring station along the Henri-IV motorway shows an average of 9.4 μg/m3.

“We can assume that it will be similar on the Félix-Leclerc motorway side,” Ms. Elsener said.

The 71 trees, including deciduous ones, that will be planted to compensate for deforestation of an expanse of forest needed to build the school will not be enough to capture all car exhaust fumes, especially in winter, she believes.

Hard to access

We also denounce the access to the building that will be located behind the Seigneurie high school, via Avenue des Vents, where there is no sidewalk and where there is already heavy traffic during rush hour.

“The school […] should not affect the daily circulation, which must remain fluid. A pedestrian network is essential […] [et] It is strongly discouraged to build near fast and dense traffic routes,” writes the Ministry of Education in its guide to real estate planning.

“It’s going to be a mess if school ends in this area, it’s only going to make things worse. It is dangerous for our children, there is no chance that we will send them on foot,” laments Mr Langevin.

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