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Residential exposure to air toxics is linked to lower grade point averages among school children in El Paso, Texas, USA

Abstract

Children in low-income neighborhoods tend to be disproportionately exposed to environmental toxicants. This is cause for concern because exposure to environmental toxicants negatively affects health, which can impair academic success. To date, it is unknown if associations between air toxics and academic performance found in previous school-level studies persist when studying individual children. In pairing the National Air Toxics Assessment risk estimates for respiratory and diesel particulate matter risk disaggregated by source, with individual-level data collected through a mail survey, this paper examines the effects of exposure to residential environmental toxics on academic performance for individual children for the first time and adjusts for school-level effects using generalized estimating equations. We find that higher levels of residential air toxics, especially those from non-road mobile sources, are statistically significantly associated with lower grade point averages among fourth- and fifth-grade school children in El Paso (Texas, USA).

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Acknowledgments

We recognize assistance from Marilyn Montgomery, who prepared the block-level NATA data for us. We thank Bibi Mancera and Zuleika Ramirez at the Hispanic Health Disparities Center and the staff at the Campus Post Office for their assistance in carrying out the survey. The research participants are also gratefully recognized for taking the time to complete the survey. The work of student research assistants Anthony Jimenez, Marie Gaines, Paola Chavez-Payan, and Young-an Kim is gratefully recognized.

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Correspondence to Sara E. Grineski.

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This work was jointly supported by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) and the US Environmental Protection Agency [Award Number P20 MD002287-05S1]. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the NIMHD or the EPA.

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Clark-Reyna, S.E., Grineski, S.E. & Collins, T.W. Residential exposure to air toxics is linked to lower grade point averages among school children in El Paso, Texas, USA. Popul Environ 37, 319–340 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-015-0241-8

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11111-015-0241-8

Keywords

  • Environmental justice
  • Children
  • Academic performance
  • National Air Toxics Assessment
  • El Paso, Texas, USA