Data from 1,895 fourth and fifth grade children living in El Paso, Texas has found that those who were exposed to high levels of motor vehicle emissions had significantly lower GPAs, even when accounting for other factors known to influence school performance.
The link between air pollution and academic performance may be direct (pollutants damage the brain) or indirect — through illness and absenteeism.
The finding adds to other evidence linking air pollution around schools to children's academic performance.
The level of toxic air pollutants around the children's homes was estimated using the Environmental Protection Agency's National Air Toxics Assessment. GPAs, as well as demographic factors, were assessed from parental questionnaires.
El Paso was ranked 8th out of 277 U.S. metropolitan areas for annual particulate pollution in 2014.