Air Pollution Lowers Test Scores

University of Utah  researchers find that air pollution, specifically winter inversion, is linked to lower math and English test scores. Read more here.

“The huge takeaway is that this isn’t about school location—it’s not just the schools in the most polluted parts of the city. Everyone is impacted by peak pollution,” said lead author Casey Mullen, doctoral student in sociology at the University of Utah.

The Salt Lake Tribune covered the new study by researchers at the U. of Utah about how our air pollution spikes are associated with worse scores in math and english among grade school students in Salt Lake County.

“For whatever reason, a lot of our lawmakers — who are the ones who need this information — seem to be persuaded by local research,” said Brian Moench with Utah Physicians for a Health Environment, who reviewed the study but did not contribute to it. “This kind of research is very consistent with literally hundreds of other studies, so this is not a surprise. But it’s nice to see the [same] conclusions drawn by other studies.”

Some fine particulates can embed in organs like the brain and remain in the body indefinitely, Moench added, harming children irreversibly.

“If a kid arrives at school having inhaled air pollution, he arrives at school with an inflammatory state in [his] brain. Then he’s going to have a tough day at school,” Moench said. “In many circumstances, especially during inversion season, there is never a long enough respite for this inflammatory state to subside.’”

This adds to our call for the legislature to spend the money to buy air purifiers for every classroom in the state. It would be the cheapest way to improve education for Utah students, not to mention all the other health benefits.