School performance and air pollution


I came by a very interesting article in the Economist the other day that was referring to a paper called * “The long-run human capital and economic consequences of high-stakes examinations”, by Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein and Sefi Roth. National Bureau of Economic Research, October 2014.

This study compares the results of students who took the Bagrut, Israel’s high-school graduation exam, in 2000-02 with levels of PM2.5 (fine-particulate matter) in the air at exam sites. PM2.5 is well know to damages lung development and causes asthma, but also lowers performance in a range of tasks. The authors were hoping to demonstrate the effect of good and bad luck on the results. And so they did.

They could see that even small differences in PM2.5 showed a decline in the student´s score. Boys and poor youngsters saw their scores fall the most. The study also went on to look at the likelihood of the pupil committing to further studies which also declined with increasing PM2.5

This paper takes up a really important point, that the school environment will effect the performance of the students.

In the big cities we have problems with outdoor pollution and small particles that also find their way indoors. To add to the problem we also have the indoor pollution created by having lots of children/students in one room which is often worsened by poor building standards and poor ventilation.

It is very important to look at ways to improve indoor air quality in our schools. If we expect our student to do their best we also need to provide them with an environment that allows them to do so.

We are currently working with a school in Sweden that had major problems with their indoor environment. The students had head aches and could not focus on their daily school work. By putting up AirRevival units and fans we have been able to improve the situation dramatically.


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