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Air pollution affects how children score on exams

A new study has uncovered a troubling correlation between air pollution and children's academic performance. Researchers from the Yale School of Public Health analyzed data from over 2.8 million public school students in North Carolina, tracking their test scores from grades 3 to 8 between 2001 and 2018.

The findings revealed a significant decline in math and English test scores for every measurable increase in PM2.5 particulate matter, a key component of air pollution.

Air pollution: Impact on girls and ethnic minorities

The study also highlighted a concerning disparity in the impact of air pollution on different groups. Girls and ethnic minority students were found to be more severely affected by air pollution, with their test scores suffering a steeper decline compared to their counterparts.

The researchers attribute this increased vulnerability to a combination of factors, including the heightened susceptibility of these groups to the detrimental effects of pollution, exacerbated by inequality and discrimination. Additionally, less privileged communities often reside in areas with higher air pollution levels and are less likely to have access to home air purifiers.

Global implications and the call for action

This study adds to the growing body of evidence linking air pollution to adverse health outcomes, particularly in children. Air pollution is a global crisis, with 99% of the world's population breathing unsafe air. It is estimated to cause 7 million premature deaths worldwide each year, accounting for 29% of all lung cancer deaths and 24% of deaths from stroke.

In light of these alarming statistics, the World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Clean Air is advocating for increased funding to improve air quality globally. By investing in cleaner energy sources, promoting sustainable transportation options, and implementing stricter pollution control measures, we can mitigate the devastating effects of air pollution and safeguard the health and well-being of future generations.

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