In America its no secret that we have one of the worst infrastructure ratings for a first world country. The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) quadrennial infrastructure “report card” painted a dull picture of the US’s backbone. According to the organization’s report, there hasn’t been much improvement of America’s transportation, water, energy, education and waste management programs since the last report was released back in 2013. The newest report came out in 2017.
The report card, broken into sections:
Aviation (D), bridges (C+), dams (D), drinking water (D), energy (D+), hazardous waste (D+), inland waterways (D), levees (D), parks and recreation (D+), ports (C+), railways (B), roads (D), schools (D+), solid waste (C), public transit (D-) and wastewater (D+) resources.
You may be looking at these grades thinking they can’t be right, as you should. But the reality is the American government has forgotten about its infrastructure while giving tax cuts to the rich and over spending on its military. These conditions are affecting our next generations health. We have seen reports of 350 schools not passing water tests due to lead contamination in the water. Schoolchildren across the country are plagued by air pollution that’s linked back to multiple brain-related problems, with black, Hispanic and low-income students most likely to be exposed to a plethora of harmful toxins at school, scientists and educators have warned.
Air pollution in school
While the figures vary, studies have estimated that a third or more of U.S. schools have mold, dust and other indoor air problems serious enough to provoke respiratory issues like asthma in students and teachers.A national survey of school nurses found that 40% knew children and staff adversely affected by indoor pollutants.Indoor air affects more than health, new research suggests that students also perform better in schools with healthier air.About 1 in 10 children in the U.S. now has asthma, which causes them to miss an average of four days of school each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Water contamination in US schools
An analysis of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data showed about 350 schools and day-care centers failed lead tests a total of about 470 times from 2012 through 2015.That represents nearly 20% of the water systems nationally testing above the agency’s “action level” of 15 parts per billion.
Photo via USA Today
The EPA estimates that about 90,000 public schools and half a million child-care facilities are not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act because they depend on water sources such as municipal utilities expected to test their own water. That means parents have no idea that lead isn’t seeping into children’s water from a school building’s pipes, solder or fixtures.
Lead-tainted water isn’t only used for drinking and washing clothes. It’s often used for cooking school lunches, where it can wind up in foods like noodles, or making infant formula, posing a particular risk to babies because they consume so much water compared to their size. Lead concentrations can rise as water goes unused and stays in contact with plumbing since schools and day cares often are vacant for long stretches. Also, lead particles tend to release sporadically, so a child can go days drinking from a contaminated water fountain before ingesting the toxin.
Also, the concentration of lead can rise as water goes unused and stays in contact with plumbing since schools and day cares often are vacant for extended periods of time. Also, lead particles tend to release sporadically, so a child can go days drinking from a contaminated water fountain before ingesting the toxin.
Health impacts from lead:
Long-term exposure to lead, a naturally occurring metal used in everything from construction materials to batteries, can cause serious health problems, particularly in young kids.
Lead is toxic to everyone, but unborn babies and young children are at greatest risk for health problems from lead poisoning their growing bodies make them more susceptible to absorbing and retaining lead.
Each year in the United States, 310,000 1- to 5-year-old kids are found to have unsafe levels of lead in their blood, which can lead to a wide range of symptoms, from headaches and stomach pain to behavioral problems and anemia (not enough healthy red blood cells). Lead also can affect a child’s developing brain.
Its time for America to reinvest in its communities and fix the crumbling infrastructure that is making our future generations sick. This is now way for an industrialized country to be living in, nor should it be a part of our country that we leave in the shadows and forget to talk about.