By Mark Bishop, Deputy Director
One of our fundamental issues at HSC is how health and wellness affect student performance. While much of the work we do falls into an area we consider common sense (eat well, reduce exposures to toxic chemicals, improve acoustics in the classroom, exercise more), we still look to the research to validate our efforts. A new study is beginning that will look at the effects of outdoor air pollution and student performance.
University of Michigan researchers are studying connections between air toxins and K-12 student performance in Michigan - and possibly whether air quality should be a factor when deciding where to build public schools.
The study combines census, air quality and school district information to give a bird's-eye view of where schools, poverty and pollution intersect - kilometer by kilometer across the entire state. By using additional public data supplied by Detroit Public Schools, researchers at U-M's School of Natural Resources and Environment (SNRE) are taking the study a step further: comparing student performance against environmental data.
The implications of this study will be significant and far reaching - from issues of environmental justice, to real-world capital budgeting questions about school siting and land acquisition. We are about to begin a project with the National Trust and the Lt. Governor’s Office to look into school siting policies and make recommendations on how to best develop schools that promote community, health and quality education. We look forward to reading the findings of this study. Stay tuned!