Breathing dirty air may lower kids' IQ

Discussion on health consequences of air particulates

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Breathing dirty air may lower kids' IQ

Postby Wilberforce » Sat Feb 23, 2008 12:21 am

Breathing dirty air may lower kids' IQ
Scientific American
Reuters - February 15, 2008
By Anne Harding

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Kids who live in neighborhoods with heavy traffic pollution have lower IQs and score
worse on other tests of intelligence and memory than children who breathe cleaner air, a new study shows.

The effect of pollution on intelligence was similar to that seen in children whose mothers smoked 10 cigarettes a day
while pregnant, or in kids who have been exposed to lead, Dr. Shakira Franco Suglia of the Harvard School of Public
Health in Boston, the study's lead author, told Reuters Health.

While the effect of pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health has been studied extensively, less is known
about how breathing dirty air might affect the brain, Suglia and her team write in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

To investigate, she and her colleagues looked at 202 Boston children 8 to 11 years old who were participating in a
study of maternal smoking. The researchers related several measures of cognitive function to the children's estimated
exposure to black carbon, a component of the particulate matter emitted in automobile and truck exhaust, particularly
by diesel vehicles.

The more heavily exposed children were to black carbon, the lower were their scores on several intelligence tests.

When the researchers adjusted for the effects of parents' education, language spoken at home, birth weight, and
exposure to tobacco smoke, the association remained.

For example, heavy exposure to black carbon was linked to a 3.4-point drop in IQ, on average. Heavily exposed
children also scored lower on tests of vocabulary, memory and learning.

"It's within the range for in utero tobacco exposure and lead exposure," Suglia said in an interview.

She pointed out that exposure to traffic pollution has been associated with a number of other harmful effects and that,
short of moving away from heavy traffic areas, there's not much people can do to limit it.

She and her colleagues suggest that traffic pollution may exert harmful effects by causing inflammation and oxidative
damage to the brain. They call for further research on the effects of pollution on the development of intelligence in
children and on cognitive decline for people of all ages, including whether traffic exposure might cause or accelerate
brain degeneration in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

SOURCE: American Journal of Epidemiology, February 1, 2008.

Scientific American ... -air-may-l

American Journal of Epidemiology Abstract ... -00005.htm
• The Surgeon General has determined that there is no safe level of exposure to ambient smoke!

• If you smell even a subtle odor of smoke, you are being exposed to poisonous and carcinogenic chemical compounds!

• Even a brief exposure to smoke raises blood pressure, (no matter what your state of health) and can cause blood clotting, stroke, or heart attack in vulnerable people. Even children experience elevated blood pressure when exposed to smoke!

• Since smoke drastically weakens the lungs' immune system, avoiding smoke is one of the best ways to prevent colds, flu, bronchitis, or risk of an even more serious respiratory illness, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis! Does your child have the flu? Chances are they have been exposed to ambient smoke!
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