Assess school environmental effects on children's health and performance and strengthen state/community capacity to create a healthy and safe learning environmentEPA Grant Number: R835636
Title: Assess school environmental effects on children's health and performance and strengthen state/community capacity to create a healthy and safe learning environment
Investigators: Lin, Shao , Thurston, George D. , Hwang, Syni-An
Institution: Health Research, Inc. / NYS Dept. of Health
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: December 18, 2014 through December 17, 2018 (Extended to July 31, 2020)
Project Amount: $1,000,000
RFA: Healthy Schools: Environmental Factors, Children’s Health and Performance, and Sustainable Building Practices (2013) RFA Text | Recipients Lists
Research Category: Children's Health , Human Health
The objective of the proposed project is to assess combined effects of individual school environmental factors and their interactions with demographics and neighborhood factors on occupants’ health and performance, and to work with community partners to identify the best and sustainable school building practices for an optimal learning environment.
We will first use our extensive constellation of available environmental and health datasets to assess if school indoor conditions including building practices and emergent factors (renovation, biomass, and radon) and school outdoor and home exposure (proximity to industrial facilities, waste sites, heavy traffic, airport and wood-burning) are individually and jointly associated with occupants’ upper/lower respiratory health and performance. We will use personal monitors in a sub-sample of 100 occupants to measure actual and total exposure and air monitors to measure school indoor contaminants for validation (Aim 1). In Aim 2, we will examine if school environment-health/ performance associations are modified by socio-demographics, geographic areas/ urbanicity, neighborhood characteristics (e.g., built environment, smoking rate) and seasonal/ weather factors. We will further assess how health and absenteeism mediate the effect of school environment on student performance, identify new methodologies and develop a predictive model in Aim 3. Finally, we will evaluate the impacts of three school indoor programs on school building conditions and children’s outcomes. We will work with community stakeholders to identify the best practices of school building operation and maintenance and incorporate findings into the Statewide School Environmental Health Program (SSEHP) and NYS Environmental Public Health Tracking (EPHT) system for sustainable impacts (Aim 4).
This study will address all key research areas requested in this RFA. Outputs from this project include objective measures of school building factors and children’s outcomes over time, presentations and published papers estimating the proportions of outcomes attributable to school environment, new methodology on exposure assessment and mediators detection, and final projection models, which will help inform recommendations for enhancing school-health assessment and building practices. Outcomes include best and sustainable building management strategies, community engagement in the entire process of the research, translating and sharing findings with relevant school stakeholders, incorporating school building factors and children’s new outcomes of performance into the existing EPHT program, and enhancing the SSEHP in NYS. By understanding the impacts of school environment on children and promoting best school practices, we will reach our ultimate goals of creating optimal learning environments and improving children’s health/ educational performance.