Parents attending a public meeting Tuesday night said their children's clothes smell, while others have asthma, allergies or trouble breathing because an asphalt plant and other companies are too close to a Moncton elementary school.

About 200 parents used the meeting to explore a range of ideas about what could be done about École Champlain's situation — from asking the city to shut down the companies to asking the school district to move the school or the students.

Solange Gagnon, one of the parents who organized the meeting, said she was encouraged to see the strong turnout at the public meeting.

"I really think that we will be able to move forward because the amount of people here shows support for the cause," Gagnon said.

School 150 metres from asphalt plant

The school was built in 1969 when only the asphalt plant, which is roughly 150 metres away, was in the neighbourhood. There are now dozens of industrial companies that have cropped up near the kindergarten to Grade 5 school.

Parents asked a government official on Tuesday why up to 300 diesel trucks are allowed to rumble by the school every day.

While parents believe the air around their children's school is dangerous, Laurie Collette, the Department of Environment's regional director in Moncton, said it's too early to say whether the air is unsafe.

Collette said the province has been monitoring the air emissions in the neighbourhood since March.

He said right now, the asphalt plant, which is the biggest emitter of pollutants, is operating within provincial norms.

"A school versus industrial [area] they don't make good neighbours to start," Collette said.

"And as a department we are caught with the situation and we're trying to at least make sure that the companies and anybody around operates to the norms set out by the department."

Collette said he doesn't have enough information to comment on a claim by some at the meeting that the provincial norms are more lenient than Canadian or World Health Organization standards.