Cleaner school buses could lead to better exam results

Researchers in the US suggest that by reducing diesel emissions from school buses, it increases the cardiovascular health of school pupils by 4% and also increases their end of year exam results by 10%.

The findings came from Georgia State University, who published a report examining the link between air pollution from diesel school buses and student health and academic performance.

According to the study, nearly 25 million children ride over 500,000 buses to school in the U.S. every day, and the majority of these buses use diesel as fuel.

It highlights that school buses contribute to air pollution exposure for people who wait at bus stops, however, exposure is highest for passengers who are inside the vehicle.

Because of this, many bus operators in the States have undertaken retrofit programmes as a way to reduce diesel emissions.

For the study, the researchers collected data from 2,656 school buses in Georgia which are used by over 150,000 students, the researchers then observed the health and academia of the students.

During the sample period, 15% of Georgia’s school districts retrofitted a share of their fleet.

Researchers studied which buses the pupils took each day, and how long they spent on the bus.

They then put this information against data on the cardiovascular health of the students and English end of year test scores, which suggested a positive effect on bus retrofits on health and academic performance.

Retrofitting an entire fleet of buses led to a 4% increase in that district’s average aerobic capacity and increases English test scores by 10%.

The researchers said that retrofitting buses is an efficient and cost-effective way to directly improve student health and achievement.

They concluded that the results from the study have relevance for future policy.

They write: ‘While bus retrofit programmes are widespread, very little work has examined their effects.’

‘Policymakers interested in the physical health and academic performance of children can use bus retrofits as a cost-effective policy tool to increase this.’

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