The Smog Effect: How Air Quality Could Be Affecting Test Scores


Nafas Indonesia





English / Indonesia

Are your children’s scores getting lower over time? For those with children, it's essential to assist them in getting ready for everything—from providing a conducive study environment to paying attention to their health so they can perform at their best during exams.

This includes remaining vigilant about air pollution. Recent research has proven the impact of consistent exposure to high pollution levels on children's exam scores. How much does air quality influence the performance of children during exams?

Let's delve into the study that addresses this issue.

About The Study

Key Insights

The research paper shows us a connection between the impacts of long-term exposure to outdoor PM2.5 and academic performance (specifically in mathematics and reading) in a group of children in North Carolina. Evidence in this paper exposes that:

  • For every 1 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 in the air, mathematics and reading dropped in standardized end-of-grade scores
  • Specifically, math scores showed a decline at the time PM2.5 levels ranged between 10-14 μg/m3.
  • A constant drop in reading was observed when the levels of PM2.5 went over 8 μg/m3.
  • All in all, as the fine particulate matter levels rise, the test scores of the children tend to decrease.
  • Additionally, girls’ math scores showed a significantly higher vulnerability to PM2.5 exposure, the same goes for the reading scores of children from low-income families.


This cross-sectional study followed the STROBE reporting guideline and was approved by the Yale Institutional Review Board with waived informed consent because it was a secondary analysis. The researchers gained student-level administrative data from the North Carolina Education Research Data Center, which included students in grades 3-8 who attended public schools in North Carolina from 2001-2018. Researchers standardized test scores in maths and reading. Analyses are performed in R statistical software and were conducted in March-September 2023. PM2.5 concentrations were subtracted using school coordinates in the past 12 months before the test and using daily maximum temperatures during summer (June-September) and winter (December-February) as climate controls.

Why It’s Important

  1. Healthy Air, Happy Learning: Have you ever wondered about the secret sauce for school success? Turns out, it's also in the air – literally. This study spills the beans that when kids breathe cleaner air (less PM2.5), their school performance rockets. Providing a fresh and healthy space for their young ones; it's a golden ticket to leveling up their learning journey.
  2. Spotting Inequalities, Powering Change: We must notice the vulnerable groups that are also a crucial part of the school. Turns out, they are facing a bit more of the PM2.5 impact. Parents, you hold the key to unlocking equal opportunities for your child. Dive into school policies and make sure every kid gets a fair chance to breathe the fresh air.
  3. Clean Air, Bright Future: This study isn't just for big decision-makers; it's a push for action. Parents, team up with the leaders to clean up the air. Less PM2.5 is not just about health; it's about making sure your child's school days are the best they can be. It's about making the air fresher for your kids to thrive and learn.

Breathe better for brighter grades! Join the movement for clean air in schools – to ensure a healthier future for our students.