Date of Award

Summer 8-12-2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John Steward, MPH

Second Advisor

Christina Fuller, ScD, SM

Third Advisor

Nazeera Dawood, MBBS, MPH, CCRC




Traffic-related Pollution Exposure Assessment of Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools (K-12) in Proximity to Major Highways and Expressways

Background: A number of studies have linked traffic-related pollutant exposures to asthma in children. Health conditions such as asthma can contribute to school absenteeism and missed learning opportunities as well as place a major burden on health resources. Although children spend a significant amount of time in school, few states have adopted school siting policies that prevent the placement of schools near major highways. Furthermore, schools often fail to take appropriate steps (e.g. adequate HVAC and air filters) to address indoor air quality concerns for students. The study was designed to identify the number of schools and the number of children in Fulton County and Atlanta Public Schools that attend schools in proximity to major highways and expressways where they are likely to have greater exposure to traffic pollution. The results of this study can be used to build an evidence base for stricter school siting guidelines, for planning safe routes to school, and for mitigation strategies to limit pollutant exposures for children who attend high-risk schools.

Methods: Highway, expressway, county, and school shapefiles were overlaid using ArcMap in ArcGIS version 10.1 (ERSI, USA). A circular buffer with radius 0.5 mile (~ 800 m) was created for each school. ArcMap geospatial tools were used to identify major highways and expressways with these buffers.

Results: A total of 119 of the 225 schools in Fulton County and Atlanta Public school districts were identified as being located within 0.5 miles of a major highway or expressway. Of the 119 schools meeting the intersection criteria, 72.2% (86 of 119 schools) were designated Title I.

Conclusion: Approximately half of schools were located within 0.5 miles of a major highway or expressway. This may result in elevated levels of traffic-related air pollution on the school campuses and potential increased exposure for students. Proper air filter selection, HVAC maintenance, and air quality programs as well as land use, planning, and assessment measures are recommended for these schools to help mitigate exposures.