A new study has warned that air pollution from industrial sources near public schools jeopardizes children”s health and academic success.
The researchers found that schools located in areas with the state”s highest industrial air pollution levels had the lowest attendance rates—an indicator of poor health—as well as the highest proportions of students who failed to meet state educational testing standards.
The researchers examined the distribution of all 3,660 public elementary, middle, junior high and high schools in the state and found that 62.5 percent of them were located in places with high levels of air pollution from industrial sources.
Minority students appear to bear the greatest burden, according to the research.
A research team led by Paul Mohai of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment and Byoung-Suk Kweon of the U-M Institute for Social Research found that while 44.4percent of all white students in the state attend schools located in the top 10 percent of the most polluted locations in the state, 81.5 percent of all African American schoolchildren and 62.1 percent of all Hispanic students attend schools in the most polluted zones.
“Our findings underscore the need to expand the concept of environmental justice to include children as a vulnerable population,” the authors said.
“There is a need for proactive school policies that will protect children from exposure to unhealthy levels of air pollution and other environmental hazards,” they added.
The study was recently published in the journal Health Affairs.