Study: Education Programs Lead to Cleaner Air

A first-of-its-kind study  funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that environmental education programs are an effective tool in helping to improve air quality in North America, the agency said in an April 13 press release.

"This study shows a valuable connection between better environmental education and cleaner air in our communities," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "With the right information, people can make a real difference in the places where they live, work, play, and learn."

Nearly half of the surveyed institutions hosting education programs reported an improvement in air quality at their facilities due to actions taken by students, including doing service-learning projects and fostering community partnerships. Examples include decreased levels of carbon monoxide and mold, and enactment of a policy that decreased car or bus idling. An additional 43 percent of the surveyed programs reported some kind of action was taken to improve the environment.

Some examples include:

  • East Valley Middle School (Wash.) where students monitored school indoor air quality and worked with school administrators to implement structural changes resulting in improvements related to carbon dioxide, air flow, particulate levels, odors, and mold.
  • Exeter High School (N.H.) where students studied air quality issues and monitored car pooling and bus idling in the school drop-off area, leading to a no-idling policy and installation of no-idling signs.
  • Greater Egleston Community High (Mass.) where student actions helped lead to the installation of a local air quality monitoring station, a change in fuels by city buses, and city-wide bus idling restrictions.

EPA worked with the National Park Service Conservation Study Institute, Shelburne Farms, and a group of environmental researchers, educators and psychologists to complete the study.

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