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Learning Next Door To Industry

Site Map: Thousands of schools are located within a mile of chemical plants

by Glenn Hess
April 25, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 17

Map of U.S. showing schools within one mile of a high-risk chemical facility.
Credit: Center for Effective Government
This map shows schools (blue markers) that are located within 1 mile of a high-risk chemical facility (red markers).

One in 10 U.S. children attends school in the shadow of a potentially dangerous chemical facility, according to a report issued by the advocacy group Center for Effective Government.

The analysis, displayed through an interactive map on the group’s website, shows that 4.6 million children at nearly 10,000 schools across the U.S. attend class within a mile of a facility that produces, uses, or stores chemicals that can pose a risk to human health if they are spilled, released into the air, or involved in an explosion.

“The number of children who are potentially in harm’s way is deeply troubling,” says Katherine McFate, president of the center.

The center and other activist groups have called for stronger chemical information disclosure standards, more oversight by federal and state agencies, and better emergency response planning.

The chemical industry, however, says more regulation is not the answer. “We need better coordination at the state and local level, including access to key health and safety data by first responders,” says Lawrence D. Sloan, CEO of the Society of Chemical Manufacturers & Affiliates, an industry trade association.


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