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Environmental Exposures in Singapore Schools: An Ecological Study.


Global climate change is a clear and present danger to our environment, but the impacts of climate change on human health are less known. People in Asian countries are more susceptible to the negative impacts of climate change and the subsequent environmental exposures because of the high population density, rapid urbanization, and natural geography of the region. The objective of this multidisciplinary collaborative ecological study was to explore the impact of environmental exposures such as temperature (°C), noise (db), humidity (%rh), air conditioning exposure time (hours), and distance traveled to school (km) on the comfort and academic success of school children in Singapore. Analysis of a large dataset from the Singapore National Science Experiment revealed a positive correlation between the distance traveled to school and favorable environmental conditions (moderate temperatures, low noise, low humidity, and higher amount of air conditioning time) and student academic performance. The analysis revealed that the distance traveled between home and school for public school students falls within a larger range than that for independent (private) school students. On average, students traveled farther distances to attend schools of higher academic caliber thereby increasing their exposure to environmental pollution. Student exposure to pollution can be minimized if all schools adhere to higher standards of environmental comfort and standardized academic caliber. If students can attend the school closest to their homes, they can minimize their daily pollution exposure due to traffic/commute, thereby mitigating the resultant negative health consequences.

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