More frequent peak exposures to fine particulate air pollution (PM2.5) were linked to lower test scores for Salt Lake County third graders

Link to full study from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


Fine particulate air pollution is harmful to children in myriad ways. While evidence is mounting that chronic exposures are associated with reduced academic proficiency, no research has examined the frequency of peak exposures. It is also unknown if pollution exposures influence academic proficiency to the same degree in all schools or if the level of children’s social disadvantage in schools modifies the effects, such that some schools’ academic proficiency levels are more sensitive to exposures. We address these gaps by examining the percentage of third grade students who tested below the grade level in math and English language arts (ELA) in Salt Lake County, Utah primary schools (n = 156), where fine particulate pollution is a serious health threat. More frequent peak exposures were associated with reduced math and ELA proficiency, as was greater school disadvantage. High frequency peak exposures were more strongly linked to lower math proficiency in more advantaged schools. Findings highlight the need for policies to reduce the number of days with peak air pollution.

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