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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14(2), 207; doi:10.3390/ijerph14020207

Impact of Particulate Matter Exposure and Surrounding “Greenness” on Chronic Absenteeism in Massachusetts Public Schools

1
Department of Environmental Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02215, USA
2
Department of Geography and Environmental Development, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Beer Sheva P.O.Box 653, Israel
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editors: Jayajit Chakraborty and Sara E. Grineski
Received: 11 January 2017 / Revised: 8 February 2017 / Accepted: 13 February 2017 / Published: 20 February 2017
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Abstract

Chronic absenteeism is associated with poorer academic performance and higher attrition in kindergarten to 12th grade (K-12) schools. In prior research, students who were chronically absent generally had fewer employment opportunities and worse health after graduation. We examined the impact that environmental factors surrounding schools have on chronic absenteeism. We estimated the greenness (Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI)) and fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) within 250 m and 1000 m respectively of each public school in Massachusetts during the 2012–2013 academic year using satellite-based data. We modeled chronic absenteeism rates in the same year as a function of PM2.5 and NDVI, controlling for race and household income. Among the 1772 public schools in Massachusetts, a 0.15 increase in NDVI during the academic year was associated with a 2.6% (p value < 0.0001) reduction in chronic absenteeism rates, and a 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 during the academic year was associated with a 1.58% (p value < 0.0001) increase in chronic absenteeism rates. Based on these percentage changes in chronic absenteeism, a 0.15 increase in NDVI and 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 correspond to 25,837 fewer students and 15,852 more students chronically absent each year in Massachusetts respectively. These environmental impacts on absenteeism reinforce the need to protect green spaces and reduce air pollution around schools. View Full-Text
Keywords: PM2.5; air pollution; NDVI; greenness; absenteeism; public schools PM2.5; air pollution; NDVI; greenness; absenteeism; public schools
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MacNaughton, P.; Eitland, E.; Kloog, I.; Schwartz, J.; Allen, J. Impact of Particulate Matter Exposure and Surrounding “Greenness” on Chronic Absenteeism in Massachusetts Public Schools. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2017, 14, 207.

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