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39 Queens Public Schools are Near Heavily Polluting Roads: Report

Rendering of P.S. 398

Sept. 3, 2019 By Allie Griffin

As if lead paint inside classrooms wasn’t worrisome enough, a new report shows that 39 public schools across Queens are near heavily polluting roadways.

Booming residential development, coupled with overcrowded school districts has made it difficult to find spaces large enough to build new schools, often leading the city to build on less-than-desirable lots near heavily trafficked roads.

These busy roads can potentially expose children and educators to high levels of pollution and possible health effects.

According to a new analysis from home search platform, 244 public schools across the city are located within 500 feet of major highways and more are being built.

This week, P.S. 398 in Jackson Heights welcomes 476 students to a new $60 million five-story building that is just 200 feet from the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, according to the study.

In general, pollution levels are highest in areas within 500 feet of major roads and prolonged exposure to vehicular air pollution is linked to negative health effects such as impaired lung development in children and increased cancer risk, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

“When parents debate how to rank their child’s pre-K programs or elementary schools, they often pay attention to the quality of the teaching, what kinds of art and enrichment is available and whether there’s a nice outdoor playground,” said Liat Halpern, an urban planner at

“They might not pay attention to hidden hazards of air quality, even though pollution could have a big impact on their children’s ability to learn. After all, kids attend city schools 180 days a year, often running around at recess every day, breathing in the air — and potentially toxic fine particulate matter,” Halpern continued. “We think it’s important for parents to have this kind of information when they’re making decisions about where to live because often their choices are linked to nearby schools.”

A recent working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research hypothesized that students who switch to schools with higher levels of traffic pollution tend to experience declines in test scores, increased behavioral incidents and greater absences.

The EPA recommends reducing traffic-related pollution exposure by upgrading filtration systems in classrooms.

The 39 schools in Queens with pollution risk according to‘s analysis are listed below:

1. P.S. 152 Gwendoline N. Alleyne School

2. J.H.S. 74 Nathaniel Hawthorne

3. George Washington Carver High School for the Sciences

4. P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong

5. P.S./I.S. 266

6. P.S./ IS 178 Holliswood

7. Queens High School of Teaching, Liberal Arts and the Sciences

8. Queens Preparatory Academy

9. P.S. 220 Edward Mandel

10. Thomas A. Edison Career and Technical Education High School

11. P.S. 206 The Horace Harding School

12. The Riverview School

13. Queens Academy High School

14. Success Academy Charter School – South Jamaica

15. P.S. 38 Rosedale

16. P.S. 159

17. High School for Arts and Business

18. Community Voices Middle School

19. Preparatory Academy for Writers: A College Board School

20. P.S. 79 Francis Lewis

21. P.S. 131 Abigail Adams

22. P.S. 196 Grand Central Parkway

23. The Gordon Parks School

24. P.S./I.S. 208

25. P.S. 143 Louis Armstrong

26. Excelsior Preparatory High School

27. Academy of the City Charter School

28. P.S. 124 Osmond A. Church

29. J.H.S. 216 George J. Ryan

30. J.H.S. 202 Robert H. Goddard

31. Maspeth High School

32. P.S. Q004

33. P.S. 377

34. Academy for Careers in Television and Film

35. Collaborative Arts Middle School

36. Francis Lewis High School

37. Hunters Point Community Middle School

38. Robert H. Goddard High School of Communication Arts and Technology

39. P.S. 251 Queens

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Fan of Dough Boy Park

Back in my day we walked uphill back and forth to school, chased by crack addicted mountain cougars who chased us in our broken glass sandals. In cold times we were given hot potatoes to carry in our burning hands. When they cooled off , we ate them for our lunch. These Kids gotta toughen up.


I like how these reports come out. However, no one is doing anything about it. For years i have reported more than 100 times the idling school buses (mainly in the winter days) in front of the schools. No one cares. The buses idle while the kids are in the playgrounds playing. Sure the reports are great but doing something about it would be even better.


How and to whom are you reporting this? I think your cause is worthy but that you need a new approach. Idling buses are definitely illegal but you have to make more noise. Don’t give up- maybe try contacting the news media and see if you can generate some interest.


Oh please. You mean to say that with these statistics available , that they didnt know the highway was that close before they started building? All that money and now they come up with this nonsense.


Oh. Come. On. I’m all for protecting children but this is too much. Lots of us LIVE near the BQE, the LIE, the Grand Central Parkway, the Cross-Bronx Expressway, I-95…. Lisa Halpern seems like an out-of-touch elitist.


The BS never ends, how did our parents and grandparents manage to get through life. Everyday something new to pull a contract for some kind of remediation.


That’s because our parents and grandparents lived in a time with a lot less pollution. Less cars less everything and not to mention most of them have a disease or cancer.


Georgia- There was more pollution in 60’s & 70’s, water and air. You’re right about the disease or cancer portion of your post.


The was much less awareness about pollution and its effects on the human population living and working nearby. We also knew much less about cancer and respiratory illnesses and their causes than we do now.


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