Air quality sensors to be installed at Denver Public Schools

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DENVER -- Air quality sensors will be installed at 10 Denver Public Schools this school year as part of an effort to study the impact of air quality has on kids' health and performance in school.

Michael Ogletree with Denver Department of Public Health and Environment said his team started working on this study after finding that Denver Public Schools' has a higher-than-average asthma rate among students.

Through a grant, DDPHE received 10 sensors to install at schools for the 2019/2020 school year. Ogletree said the schools were selected based on asthma rates and free-and-reduced lunch rates.

The air sensors will study PM2.5, fine particulate matter created by things like car exhaust, construction and aerosols. DDPHE will also collect health data from schools -- nurses visits, inhaler use, etc. -- as part of a partnership with DPS. From there, researchers will study the data to understand the correlation between air pollution and student health.

Once there is a better understanding of the impact, Ogletree said the next step will be changing policies to help students. Ogletree offered examples like limiting recess time outside during days where air pollution is problematic or limiting road construction projects near schools to summer months when students are not in close proximity.

Once the air sensors are up and running, the data will run through an algorithm and then get posted to a website where parents, teachers and the public can see the findings in real time.

Ogletree said his team hopes to secure more grant funding to implement more sensors at Denver schools during the next three years.

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