Project Number:


Massachusetts Department of Public Health


Pilot Study of Air Quality and Student Health


In an effort to more clearly understand the relationship between PM2.5 and respiratory distress and illness, Tech Environmental performed a pilot study initiated by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. This project tracked daily levels of respirable dust between September 1, 2003 and August 31, 2004 and linked daily school-based respiratory event data with existing ambient PM2.5 air pollution data from monitors operated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in two Massachusetts communities. In addition to the ambient air monitoring data, vehicular traffic data were also reviewed for each of the towns in this study.

Since PM2.5 is closely related to vehicle emissions, the study sought to use traffic data with the school-based respiratory event data to demonstrate associations. Ozone data were also considered, but since ozone's greatest air quality impact occurs during the summer (when schools are out of session), tracking ozone levels was not a key concern of the study. The project's goals were to demonstrate the feasibility of developing a "usable" database that would match school health data collected by school nurses and daily PM2.5 levels, to explore the possibility of correlating PM2.5 levels with respiratory health in the two communities, and to investigate the practicability of scaling the project up and applying it to other areas.

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Key Points

  • The Mass. Dept. of Public Health initiated a pilot study to examine the relationship between air quality and the respiratory health of public school students.
  • Tech collected air pollution data, traffic data, and school health data and studied the feasibility of correlating this information.

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