Date of Completion
Kristina Wagstrom, Kelly Burke
Environmental Engineering | Other Chemical Engineering
Poor air quality at schools may negatively impact students’ academic performance.1 2 3 In this study we look at the relationship between ambient, outdoor air quality and student socioeconomic status at United States public schools. We used free and reduced lunch eligibility, as part of the USDA’s National School Lunch Program, as an indicator of household income. We focus on nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5). We used ambient pollutant concentration estimates at census block group resolution (Kim et al.) as the outdoor air pollution concentration at each school.4 We found a positive correlation between lower socioeconomic status and higher levels of ambient air pollution. We found that on average, NO2 concentrations are 1.8 - 3.1 ppb higher (22-42%, � < .001) for students in the lowest SES quartile than the highest. The concentration of PM2.5 is 0.7 - 1.2 µg/m3 higher (7-13%, � < .001) for students in the lowest SES quartile than the highest. At elementary and high schools, average O3 concentrations are 0.5 ppb lower (1%, � < .001) for students in the lowest SES quartile than the highest. At middle schools there is no significant difference (� > 0.1) in O3 concentration between the lowest and highest SES quartiles. Atkinson Index values are highest for NO2 (0.15 - 0.17, �=1). Values for PM2.5 are one order of magnitude lower (.04, �=1) and two orders of magnitude lower for O3 (.009, �=1).
Facas, Katyland and Wagstrom, Kristina, "Household Income and Air Pollution at Public Schools in the United States" (2021). Honors Scholar Theses. 890.