Protecting Children Against Air Pollution: Educating at Home and School


Air pollution can harm human’s health. Jakarta’s air pollution level routinely ranks one of the worst in the world. If current levels of air pollution persist, Jakarta’s residents are predicted to lose 2.3 years of life expectancy relative to pollution levels adhering to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines.

Children are especially vulnerable to toxic air as their immune systems, lungs, and brains are still developing. Exposure to air pollution during these critical developmental stages can have long-term health effects, triggering asthma, childhood cancer, and increasing the risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease later in life.

Beyond direct health effects, evidence is mounting on the relationship between air pollution exposure and delayed brain development. Air pollution exposure harms test scores, IQ, and memory, and may lead to neurological behavioral problems. These early-life developmental delays in turn impair long-term health, education, and economic outcomes. In fact, a US study found that man-made air pollution reduces future earnings for students by nearly $1.7 billion annually.

Current research thus shows the staggering educational costs of air pollution, but more context-specific research is necessary to understand local impacts and give tailored policy recommendations. Furthermore, a gap in research exists on interventions that can successfully protect children from toxic air, especially in Jakarta.


Despite the detrimental effects, previous surveys have shown that Jakarta residents are not prioritizing air pollution.

Experts from Australia National University, SMERU, and the University of Chicago will implement an information intervention in schools. This study will test the efficacy of different information treatments in schools to trigger awareness about air pollution and hindering the negative health impacts by running a randomized control trial.  


We are interested in the experienced-based campaign because of mounting anecdotal evidence that the negative health impacts of air pollution are very difficult to convey through words, images, or videos. Experienced-based learning is thus a novel type of information campaign that could provide a more salient treatment than traditional information mediums.

Specifically, we are interested in two types of information campaigns:

  1. A traditional information campaign educating parents and students on how air pollution affects health and education, as well as an air quality monitor
  2. An experience-based campaign, where we offer free air purifier rentals to parents to give households the experience of clean air, as well as an air quality monitor

We hypothesize that each component—air quality monitor, information intervention, and air purifier rental—will have specific outcomes that we can measure.

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Athia Yumna
Budy P. Resosudarmo
Nurmala Selly Saputri
Team Member 
Dimitri Swasthika Nurshadrina
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The University of Chicago
Project Counterpart 
The University of Chicago
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