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Baltimore Healthy Schools: Impact of Indoor Air Quality on Health and Performance

Objectives

The objectives of this research are to assess the impact of indoor and outdoor air quality on student achievement, student health and overall school climate; and to document the impact of changes in indoor air quality and in school performance indicators associated with modernization of school facilities in Baltimore City.  

Approach

The proposed 4-year program will take place in two phases. Both phases will assess 3 outcome domains: student performance; student health (primarily asthma); and school climate and staff performance indicators. Phase I is an assessment of all public schools in Baltimore and will determine if the ambient air quality and the environment around a school is associated with performance and health indicators.  Phase I will also evaluate the relationship between existing building characteristics (based on a recent school inspection campaign) and student achievement, student health and overall school climate. In Phase II we will take advantage of a natural experiment to see if schools that undergo facility improvement (significant renovation, N= 25) have improvements in air quality (PM2.5, CO, NO2, VOCs, HCOH), surface contaminants (allergen and endotoxin) and environmental conditions (CO2, temperature, humidity, noise, and illumination) compared to schools that do not undergo renovation (but are scheduled for renovation at a later date and matched based on facility condition; N=10).  We will also evaluate whether the renovations and changes in environmental conditions result in changes to key performance and health outcomes. Community and stakeholder engagement will be an integral part of the project throughout its course.

Expected Results

This goal of this project is closely aligned with the objectives of the EPA’s Healthy Schools grant announcement.  The ultimate aim of this project is improved health and educational performance for children in City schools. Once completed, this project will provide evidence of how improvements in Baltimore City Schools’ infrastructure impact indoor air quality and other environmental factors, and how these changes affect student academic performance, student health and overall school climate.