Freeway Living Is The Fast Lane to Childhood Illnesses


By Ana Flores, Moms Clean Air Force

My daughter enters kindergarten next year, so that means we are now in the season of school tours and trying to navigate the application system. I thought my only concern would be finding a thriving dual immersion program in a good community. I won’t negotiate on her not being raised bilingual and biliterate. We are renters. We kept it that way so we have the flexibility to move anywhere within the greater Los Angeles area. That way we can find a school that fits our needs.

Little did I imagine that I would also be considering the air quality in and around the school, especially how close the school is to a major freeway. Since we’re also house hunting, the close-to-a-freeway concern has become even more of an issue. Los Angeles is a pulsating city with a vast network of transportation systems including: freeways, ports, airports, trains and metro lines. All of these systems produce ultra fine particles that are so tiny (nano, in fact), they can even seep through sealed windows and dangerously enter our lungs, causing many serious health conditions, including asthma and heart problems. Since the transportation system in Los Angeles, as in most major cities, is so widespread, it is getting harder and harder to find a place that is within safe distance of this type of pollution.

In fact, through this observation and the investigation, I learned the house we presently live in is not far enough from the freeway to be safe. In 2009, environmental health researchers from UCLA, the University of Southern California and the California Air Resources Board found that during the hours before sunrise, freeway air pollution extends much further than previously thought–1.5 miles away. Plus, it is more windy in the morning, and if you live downhill from a freeway, you are more affected.

As a member of the Moms Clean Air Force, I am passionate about pointing out the ill-effects from air pollution contamination that poses serious health risks, especially among children whose lungs are barely developing. Also, Latinos as a group, densely populate major cities and live in areas with high environmental and industrial pollutants. Other serious consequences are lung cancer (almost the same risk as second hand smoke), heart disease, brain damage and an overall shorter life span.

3 Things You Can Do If You Live Near a Major Freeway

1. Keep the windows closed.

2. Don’t exercise outdoors in the morning hours.

3. Make your voice heard: Join the Moms Clean Air Force and help us fight for your children’s right to live pollution-free.

My Kids Are Covered in a Blanket of Smog
Life is Unfair When it Comes to Clean Air
Asthma: Like Father, Like Son


KS Goh
KS Goh5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

aj M.
aj E6 years ago

good to know.

rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Berny P.
berny p6 years ago

get out of L A!

Cathy Noftz
Cathy Noftz6 years ago

~Clean, breathable air is what we all should strive for!!~

KARLOLINA G6 years ago


Emily S.
Emily S6 years ago

Let's put our energy into something that matters and makes a difference!

Monica D.
Monica D6 years ago

Sad. I prefer smaller towns and cities where people can walk and cycle to work. It's healthier and more sustainable.

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

agree with you whole-heartedly....

Amanda M.
Amanda M6 years ago

Bleech, I grew up in the DC-Metro area, and my house was literally 1 1/2 blocks away from I-95 and two miles away from the Capitol Beltway! What's even worse is that I didn't even notice the bad air until I moved to western Maryland. Now I live 12 miles away from Hagerstown, and I can definitely tell the difference between the air quality in my home and the county seat-between the diesel fumes from the trucks at the distribution centers and the trains coming and going from the two major railyards, it's no wonder I end up with a migraine sometimes after a day spent there!

It's scary to magnify those effects and get an idea of how living in the big-city metropolitan areas is harming people's health.