Installing air filters in classrooms is not only good for students’ lungs, according to new research, it’s good for their brains too.
A study by New York University’s Michael Gilraine found that putting $700 commercially available air filters in classrooms improves student performance, adding to a growing body of research examining the cognitive impacts of air pollution and its negative impact on students, athletes, and workers.
Gilraine’s discovery was sort of a happy accident. In 2015, after a large gas leak was discovered in the San Fernando Valley, schools installed air filters as a public health precaution leading to the surprising discovery about their effects on academic performance. According to Gilraine’s research, the air filters were linked to improvement in math scores by 0.20 standard deviations and English scores by 0.18 standard deviations. If this research holds up, it will be an incredibly easy and cost-effective way to boost student scores.
In addition to being scalable and cost-effective, the system would particularly benefit low-income school districts where air pollution is generally higher. The Los Angeles region has particularly high air pollution, but other areas such as Chicago, New York, and Houston would also benefit enormously from air quality amelioration.
This innovative exploration into the roots of educational performance is the type of solutions news we love to hear about here at the Optimist Daily.