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Environ Res. 2016 May;147:164-71. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2016.02.004. Epub 2016 Feb 11.

School-based exposure to hazardous air pollutants and grade point average: A multi-level study.

Author information

1
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79902, USA. Electronic address: segrineski@utep.edu.
2
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79902, USA. Electronic address: clark.stepha@husky.neu.edu.
3
Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79902, USA. Electronic address: twcollins@utep.edu.

Abstract

The problem of environmental health hazards around schools is serious but it has been neglected by researchers and analysts. This is concerning because children are highly susceptible to the effects of chemical hazards. Some ecological studies have demonstrated that higher school-level pollution is associated with lower aggregate school-level standardized test scores likely, related to increased respiratory illnesses and/or impaired cognitive development. However, an important question remains unexamined: How do school-level exposures impact individual children's academic performance? To address this, we obtained socio-demographic and grades data from the parents of 1888 fourth and fifth grade children in the El Paso (Texas, USA) Independent School District in 2012. El Paso is located on the US-side of the Mexican border and has a majority Mexican-origin population. School-based hazardous air pollution (HAP) exposure was calculated using census block-level US Environmental Protection Agency National Air Toxics Assessment risk estimates for respiratory and diesel particulate matter (PM). School-level demographics were obtained from the school district. Multi-level models adjusting for individual-level covariates (e.g., age, sex, race/ethnicity, English proficiency, and economic deprivation) and school-level covariates (e.g., percent of students economically disadvantaged and student-teacher ratio) showed that higher school-level HAPs were associated with lower individual-level grade point averages. An interquartile range increase in school-level HAP exposure was associated with an adjusted 0.11-0.40 point decrease in individual students' grade point averages (GPAs), depending on HAP type and emission source. Respiratory risk from HAPs had a larger effect on GPA than did diesel PM risk. Non-road mobile and total respiratory risk had the largest effects on children's GPA of all HAP variables studied and only mother's level of education had a larger effect than those two variables on children's GPA. The five school-level demographic indicators were only weakly associated with GPA. The study findings indicate the need for regulations on school siting and adjacent land uses to protect children's environmental health.

KEYWORDS:

Academic performance; Children; Environmental justice; Hazardous air pollutants; Schools

PMID:
26875067
PMCID:
PMC4821756
DOI:
10.1016/j.envres.2016.02.004
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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