Students Concentration Affected by Pollution, Teachers Warn


In recent years, the effects of diesel emissions on the environment have come into sharp focus, touching on various aspects of human health. A particularly concerning area has been the impact of air pollution on the cognitive functions and academic performance of students. Teachers across the globe are sounding the alarm, warning that the air their charges breathe could be stifling their ability to concentrate and learn effectively.

A Growing Concern among Educators

According to recent reports, educators have observed a noticeable decline in students’ concentration and overall academic performance, correlating closely with poor air quality days. This observation isn’t just anecdotal; a growing body of research supports the claim that pollution, particularly in urban areas, is becoming an invisible barrier to learning.

The concern isn’t unfounded. Classrooms, especially those in densely populated urban centers where diesel vehicles are prevalent, are exposed to higher levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10), which are known to significantly lower air quality. Airflow Developments details how these pollutants worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions in children and impair their ability to maintain focus over prolonged periods. 

A Closer Look at the Numbers

Most teachers (72%) believe that the air quality in their schools falls below standard. They also strongly believe that poor air quality significantly affects students’ and teachers’ health, behavior, and ability to work (90%). In addition, 77% of teachers have noticed a negative effect on student concentration due to poor air quality. As a result, 71% of teachers are calling for the installation of air filtration or purification systems in their schools.

Unfortunately, over a quarter of teachers reveal that their schools cannot improve air quality due to insufficient funding or government support. This is concerning, considering that 60% of teachers have observed a correlation between poor air quality and worsening asthma or other lung conditions among students.

In Greater London specifically, 74% of teachers claim that classroom air quality is below standard. Furthermore, in London alone, 61% of teachers have noticed that poor classroom air quality is worsening asthma and other lung conditions in children—twice more compared to the North East region, where only 29% reported this issue. Urgent action needs to be taken to address the issue of subpar air quality in schools.

The Direct Effects on Students

Smoke and fumes irritate students’ eyes, causing them to struggle with concentration and cover their eyes in class. This leads to poor academic performance.

Toxic smells from nearby industries also irritate students’ lungs, resulting in frequent coughing and difficulty breathing. The accumulation of harmful chemicals in their lungs can lead to serious infections, preventing regular attendance at school.

Spending time outdoors can cause dust in students’ ears, potentially leading to hearing problems. This creates strain as they try to hear what is being taught, causing frustration and potential dropout.

Diesel Emissions: A Significant Pollutant

A considerable portion of indoor air pollution can be traced back to outdoor sources, with vehicle diesel emissions among the most significant contributors. Diesel vehicles, long lauded for their efficiency and economy, have been scrutinized for emitting dangerous nitrogen oxides and particulate matter levels. The plight of diesel pollution was brought to light by the infamous Dieselgate scandal, which revealed that numerous vehicles emitted more pollutants than officially certified, thereby exacerbating the pollution problem and public exposure to harmful emissions. Volkswagen’s involvement in the diesel emissions scandal has sparked a widespread dialogue on diesel emission claims as affected parties seek restitution for these emissions’ environmental and health impacts.

The Way Forward: Towards Cleaner Air and Clearer Minds

Environmental health and student performance intersection necessitates immediate action across various sectors. Here are steps to mitigate the impact of diesel emissions on our students’ learning environments:

Transition to Green Transportation

Encouraging the use of electric vehicles, promoting public transit, and implementing carpooling are viable strategies to reduce diesel emissions.

Strengthen Emission Standards

Dieselgate underscores the need for tighter emission controls and rigorous enforcement to ensure compliance by automakers. Governments must hold manufacturers accountable for diesel claims and stop emissions-cheating.

Promote Awareness

Educating the public about the health risks associated with diesel emissions can galvanize collective action toward cleaner air.

As we navigate the challenges posed by air pollution, let’s remind ourselves of our pivotal role in shaping a healthier, more sustainable future for the next generation. The teachers’ warnings allow us to pause, reflect, and act decisively. By reducing our reliance on diesel and advocating for cleaner air, we can ensure that students breathe easier and flourish academically in environments conducive to learning and growth.

Dieselgate served as a sobering reminder for diesel car owners of the indirect role they might play in contributing to the pollution crisis. It’s crucial to reconsider the impact of our choices, not just on the environment but on the younger generation’s health and capacity to learn. Visit and join today’s fight against air pollution.