Air pollution could affect your child's grades

Last Updated 28 August 2015, 11:08 IST
Parents, take note! High levels of motor vehicle emissions from cars, trucks and buses near your home could hamper your child's grades, according to a new study.

The study on children's health has found that fourth and fifth graders in US who are exposed to toxic air pollutants at home are more likely to have lower grade point average (GPA).

Researchers analysed academic performance and sociodemographic data for 1,895 fourth and fifth grade children living in Texas, who were attending the El Paso Independent School District (EPISD).

They used the US Environmental Protection Agency's National Air Toxics Assessment to estimate children's exposure to toxic air pollutants, such as diesel exhaust, around the location of their homes.

Children who were exposed to high levels of motor vehicle emissions from cars, trucks and buses on roads and highways were found to have significantly lower GPAs, even when accounting for other factors known to influence school performance.

"There are two pathways that can help us to explain this association," said co-author Sara E Grineski, an associate professor at University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP).

"Some evidence suggests that this association might exist because of illnesses, such as respiratory infections or asthma," Grineski said.

"Air pollution makes children sick, which leads to absenteeism and poor performance in school," Grineski said.

"The other hypothesis is that chronic exposure to air toxics can negatively affect children's neurological and brain development," Grineski said.

This is the ninth study to emerge from a 2012 children's respiratory health survey developed at UTEP that was mailed to the homes of fourth and fifth graders enrolled in 58 EPISD elementary schools.

Parents and guardians answered questions about their children's grades in reading, language arts, math, social studies and science.

The survey also asked about the family's income, household size, parent's education level, and if the child qualified for free or reduced-price meals.

"What makes our study different is that we are actually studying kids in their home setting, but there's a body of literature where they have studied levels of air pollution at schools in California and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, instead of at children's homes," Grineski said. The study was published in the journal Population and Environment.
(Published 28 August 2015, 11:08 IST)

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