A Belgian study, summarised on Friday in De Morgen, states that pupils underperform in class on days when the air is more polluted. Researchers went to three Flemish primary schools in Zonhoven, Tirlemont and Hasselt to prove this. They noted that pupils’ scores increased when the air was purer. In contrast, this was not the case, for pupils whose home environment had greater levels of pollution.
The Professor in Epidemiology, Tim Nawrot (University of Hasselt or UHasselt), says “The differences are subtle but disruptive for the pupils. The effect of air pollution is almost as much of a determining factor on overall performance as the level of parents’ education.”
He went on, “We cannot deny that air quality has consequences on a cognitive level. Given that Flanders is crossed by heavy traffic, we should take urgent action. We have produced a study of schools with relatively unpolluted air. In a densely occupied city, the effects are certainly likely to be more significant.”