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Air pollution near Michigan schools linked to poorer student health, academic performance
Date:5/4/2011

the state's Lower Peninsula, although several places in the Upper Peninsula fall into the most-polluted category. In the Lower Peninsula, the most-polluted locations form a horseshoe-shaped band stretching from the Thumb region south to the Ohio border, then west to Lake Michigan and north to Grand Rapids and Muskegon. Locations with the highest levels of industrial air pollution include the Detroit metropolitan area, the Grand Rapids area and the Muskegon area.

The authors conclude that Michigan and other states should require an environmental-quality analysis when education officials are considering sites for new schools. "While the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft of voluntary school-siting guidelines in November, those guidelines might not be strong enough and could be ignored by many school districts," said Kweon, a research investigator at the Institute for Social Research and an adjunct assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Geographic information system software was used to digitally map the 3,660 schools and to then overlay industrial air pollution data from the Environmental Protection Agency's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicator data base.

School attendance rates were used as a proxy for health levels at each school. As a school performance measure, the researchers used 2007 scores from the Michigan Educational Assessment Program, a standardized test that all third- through ninth-graders in Michigan public schools are required to take. Specifically, they used the percentage of students who failed to meet the state standards for English and math.

Though the study focused primarily on the effects of industrial air pollutants, nearly identical patterns were found when the researchers analyzed data from the 2005 National Air Toxic Assessment, which includes on-road mobile sources such as cars, trucks and buses, as well as non-road mobile sources such as airplanes, trac
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Contact: Jim Erickson
ericksn@umich.edu
734-647-1842
University of Michigan
Source:Eurekalert

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