Study Finds Environmental Education Programs Lead to Cleaner Air

A first of its kind study funded by EPA shows that environmental education programs are an effective tool in helping to improve air quality in North America.

"This study shows a valuable connection between better environmental education and cleaner air in our communities," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "With the right information, people can make a real difference in the places where they live, work, play and learn."

The study findings were released during National Environmental Education Week (EE Week), which runs April 12-18 and is the nation’s largest organized environmental education event. Visit http://www.eeweek.org/ to learn more.

Nearly half of the surveyed institutions hosting education programs reported an improvement in air quality at their facilities due to actions taken by students, including doing service-learning projects and fostering community partnerships. Examples include decreased levels of carbon monoxide and mold, and enactment of a policy that decreased car or bus idling. An additional 43 percent of the surveyed programs reported some kind of action was taken to improve the environment.

Examples include:

  • East Valley Middle School in Washington, where students monitored school indoor air quality and worked with school administrators to implement structural changes resulting in improved carbon dioxide, air flow, particulate levels, odors and mold.
  • Exeter High School in New Hampshire, where students studied air quality issues and monitored car pooling and bus idling in the school drop-off area, leading to a no-idling policy and installation of no-idling signs.
  • Greater Egleston Community High in Massachusetts, where student actions helped lead to the installation of a local air quality monitoring station, a change in fuels by city buses and city-wide bus idling restrictions.

EPA worked with the National Park Service Conservation Study Institute, Shelburne Farms and a group of environmental researchers, educators and psychologists to complete the study.

More information about the study can be found at http://www.epa.gov/education.

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