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Study links school bus upgrades to higher attendance and improved respiratory health

Back of a school bus

New research from the University of Michigan has found that more kids might go to school if their school buses were up to date.

After the EPA launched the School Bus Rebate Program, the study conducted a review of school districts with and without bus upgrades from 2012 to 2017.

They found a 0.06% boost in attendance with new buses – that means six more children attended school per day in districts with 10,000 students.

Nationally, the study projects that upgraded buses could prevent 1.3 million daily absences per year.

“The buses that were older than [the 2000 models] were subject to lenient emission standards. Anything to do to get those buses off the road is gonna be beneficial to students as well as the community at large,” said Meredith Pedde, the environmental epidemiologist who led this project.

Pedde says bus upgrades could decrease children's exposure to harmful air pollution, leading to better health outcomes and higher attendance.

"[Children] actually [take] in more of this air pollution relative to their size than adults," said Pedde. "Even on these short durations of school bus trips, the level of pollution means that it can still be the dominant source of air pollution exposure for children during their day."

Pedde hopes more districts can receive funding for bus upgrades to improve community health at large.

Priya Vijayakumar started her Newsroom Internship in January 2023. She is interested in science/health reporting and making the facts more accessible to all!
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