Testing Air Pollution's Effect on Children's Health

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A recent report by USA Today found that schools in Washington County, Ohio ranked in the top four percentile of schools with the most polluted air in the nation.

Now, researchers want to make sure the air isn't affecting children's health, and if it is they want something done about it.

Marietta College has partnered with the University of Cincinnati to see if air pollution does in fact affect youth development.

But before they get started on their research, they first have to recruit 200 children in the area.

"It's important to know exactly the conditions in which we are bringing up our children. Environmentally I'm concerned," Gi Smith, a local parent, said.

Smith is the mother of two girls, ages seven and eight. And like most parents, she wants to make sure her children are healthy. So, she and her daughters are participating in a study to see if the area they live in has any effect on their well being.

"I'm interested in the quality of air that children breathe, and then how it affects their health," Dr. Erin Haynes with the University of Cincinnati said.

So Dr. Haynes is testing two things. First, the air in the community, and second, the children who breathe it.

"As a parent I was interested in how my child performed cognitively," Smith said.

And so the research will include a look at children's mental and physical abilities.

"Word games, blocks, we have some balance activities," Jody Alden, a researcher with Marietta College, said.

Children ages seven to nine are eligible for the study as long as their mothers lived in the area during their pregnancies, and researchers say participants won't leave empty handed.

"We do offer $100 for the child and $25 for the parent," Alden said.

Leaving families with a little extra cash and a free health examination.

If the results show that the air is affecting children's health, then researchers are hoping they can get some environmental policies changed and some new ones in place.

Any parents in Washington County interested can contact Dr. Haynes at 740-516-3200.

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