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Consequences of prenatal toxin exposure for mental health

In a recent meta-analysis of the research to date on the impact of school quality, including both physical and psychosocial factors, on children’s school achievement in low-income countries,found that there appears to be good evidence for the impact of access to electricity on children’s educational outcomes. And, in their investigation of the relations between school physical quality and rural Kenyan first grade children’s cognitive functioning and behavior, found that the availability of natural light (in schools without electricity) predicted students’ test scores. In high-income countries, where lighting is typically sufficient, research has focused more on potential benefits of exposure to natural light. Although the work on natural light exposure and children’s health and performance is limited, some rigorous work suggesting the potential importance of natural light for young children has been conducted in Sweden.These investigators found evidence for the importance of sufficient natural light exposure for primary school children’s well being during periods of the year when daylight hours are limited.

In North America, upper respiratory infections, asthma and allergies are the most common cause of primary school absenteeism and have been routinely linked to exposure to mold and other allergens as well as ambient pollutants inside both schools and children’s homes (EPA, 2003). Poorly maintained heating and ventilation systems as well as low levels of indoor:outdoor air exchange exacerbate these adverse indoor climate impacts on children (Evans, 2006). Although work in this area in the global South is limited, similar impacts of poor quality ventilation and heating would be expected.

Consistent with the bioecological perspective (Bronfenbrenner & Morris, 1998), in addition to focusing on the direct effects of school setting physical conditions on children themselves, it is important to keep in mind that substandard working conditions influence labor satisfaction and retention, and the same holds true for teachers. Several studies have shown that poor quality school physical conditions adversely influence teacher satisfaction and retention