4.6 Million American Children go to a School within a Mile of a Facility with Hazardous Chemicals

Friday, April 18, 2014
(photo: Bill Sikes, AP)

Millions of children in the United States attend schools located within a mile of an industrial facility housing hazardous chemicals, according to a new study.


The Center for Effective Government, an independent government watchdog organization, says 4.6 million kids go to schools located only a mile or less from potentially dangerous chemicals.


This total represents nearly 10% of all school-age children in the country, the group says. The number of schools operating this close to factories and other facilities with hazardous chemicals is nearly 10,000.


The Center for Effective Government reached these conclusions based on information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Risk Management Program, which requires factories, refineries, and other facilities to report the use or storage of chemicals that pose a risk to human health.


California, Texas and Illinois were found to have the most children at risk from dangerous chemicals.


In some states, like North Dakota, Iowa, and Nebraska, the percentage of children in harm’s way is 30%.


Katherine McFate, president and CEO of the Center for Effective Government, called the findings “deeply troubling.” She added “minority and low-income kids bear the greatest risks, but no one is immune from this danger.”


The report was published on the one-year anniversary of the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, which destroyed or damaged nearby schools as well as other buildings. The blast killed 15 people and wounded more than 160 others.


“In the year since the West, Texas disaster, we've seen workers killed, drinking water poisoned, and entire towns evacuated,” said the Center’s open policy director, Sean Moulton. “In state after state, town after town, people have been hurt or worse because of inadequate oversight, aging public and private infrastructure, and chemical industry battles against stronger standards and safeguards.”


The Center for Effective Government says it has joined more than 100 other groups in calling for more robust regulation by the EPA and the Department of Homeland Security to better protect Americans from harmful chemicals used at industrial facilities.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

One Year after West, Texas: One in Ten Students Attends School in the Shadow of a Risky Chemical Facility (Center for Effective Government)

Interactive Map That Shows Schools within One Mile of a High-Risk Chemical Facility (Center for Effective Government)

Brain Damage in Children May be Caused by Exposure to Industrial Chemicals (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

West, Texas, Sues Nitrate Supplier and Fertilizer Plant over Deadly Explosion (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Texas Fertilizer Company Hid Dangerous Materials from Regulators (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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