DHEC takes tough love approach to school air quality problems

by Hunter Abbey

Columbia, SC – A recent study by the EPA revealed hundreds of schools across the country are plagued by elevated levels of air pollutants due to their proximity to industrial activities.  Many states are struggling to address what they perceive as a crisis, but South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control has adopted another approach.

“We look at ourselves as a role model for the nation,” explains Butch Watson, a top official at DHEC.  “Sure we could follow the lead of those sissy states on the west coast and require a reduction of pollutants from industries close to our schools, but what kind of message would that send to the youth of our state?”

DHEC will be placing new signs at schools with air quality issues.

DHEC will be placing new signs at schools with air quality issues.

Instead, DHEC has chosen to teach a valuable lesson about personal responsibility to these school children.

Watson says innovative proposals are already in the works.  “When your mom drops you off in front of the school building, hold your breath until you get inside.  Feel like your lungs are getting congested?  Run an extra mile when you get home in the afternoon.”

These are the kinds of recommendations that will make our kids stronger in the long run officials say.  It’s a tough love approach to air pollution, but it just might work according to industry leaders.

Bob McGinnis has been operating a cement factory about a mile from Lowell Elementary School for over twenty years, and he’s fed up with what we he calls draconian environmental laws.

“It’s about time DHEC stopped dreaming up new regulations that only hurt economic development in this state every time some kid whines about his asthma.  Teaching these children to take some responsibility for themselves in this world will mold them into the kind of productive men and women that founded this great nation.”

Critics of this tough love approach site numerous scientific studies that purportedly link air toxins found near local schools to elevated risks of cancer and asthma as well as mental disturbances, but officials at DHEC have dismissed these claims as exaggerated.

“These are the same bunch of crazies that think global warming is real.  Here in South Carolina we don’t buy into that kind of nonsense,” says Watson.

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