Childhood developmental disability rates are on the rise and improvements in diagnosis can't fully explain the increase. It seems we may now know one of the culprits. Car exhaust contains a multitude of chemicals that can be toxic to brain cells, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, soot and tar compounds and PAHs, to name a few. Air pollution underscores the significant overlap between health and climate issues. Not only does it lead to developmental delays, but it causes cardiopulmonary diseases and cancer. Controlling air pollution has undoubtedly become a public health imperative. Find out how you can get involved in reducing the impacts of transportation on our children's health.
March 3, 2015
Children who attend school in heavy traffic areas may show slower cognitive development and lower memory test scores, Spanish researchers have found.
About 21,000 premature deaths are attributed to air pollution in Canada each year, according to the Canadian Medical Association. The detrimental effects of air pollution on cardiovascular health and on the lungs are well documented and now researchers are looking at its effects on the brain.
To that end, Dr. Jordi Sunyer and his colleagues from the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona measured three aspects of memory and attentiveness in more than 2,700 primary school children every three months over 12 months.
"What was surprising for us is among our children, we see very robust, consistent effects," Sunyer said Tuesday from Rome.
The associations between slower cognitive development and higher levels of air pollutants remained after the researchers took factors such as parents’ education, commuting time, smoking in the home and green spaces at school into account.
The researchers measured air pollutants from traffic twice, in the school courtyard and inside the classroom for schools with high and low traffic-related air pollution. Pollutants from burning fossil fuels, carbon, nitrogen dioxide and ultrafine particles were measured.
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