An official website of the United States government.

This is not the current EPA website. To navigate to the current EPA website, please go to This website is historical material reflecting the EPA website as it existed on January 19, 2021. This website is no longer updated and links to external websites and some internal pages may not work. More information »

The Importance of Asthma and Health Programs in Improving Academic Performance

School air quality has a major impact on asthma and other respiratory illnesses. Airborne allergens or irritants frequently trigger asthma attacks, yet environmental assessments demonstrate that schools often harbor allergen levels at or close to the thresholds that trigger attacks.1

Effective school IAQ management programs can significantly reduce the presence of airborne allergens thus minimizing the environmental risks facing children with asthma.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism. Additionally, students with uncontrolled asthma generally perform worse on standardized tests. In schools with strong school asthma programs, students with asthma attend school as regularly as those without asthma. This relationship suggests that school asthma programs can have a significant impact on attendance and performance when they focus on students whose asthma is the most poorly controlled.80 In addition, since a relatively small number of children with the highest absentee rates can skew the overall attendance rate, focusing on children with the most serious asthma could raise average daily attendance (ADA) rates.

Many effective school IAQ management programs are implemented in conjunction with health programs. School health programs coordinate:

  • Physical education
  • Nutrition
  • Counseling
  • and other health services

under a single broad umbrella. Coordination and integration of different health-related programs increases academic performance. Multi-component school health programs lead to higher student achievement scores, reduced dropout rates and higher graduation rates.68, 74

Top of Page