Air Pollution Linked to Five Times Higher Risk of Attention Problems


“New York City children exposed in the womb to high levels of pollutants in vehicle exhaust had a five times higher risk of attention problems at age 9,” according to research by Columbia University scientists reported by Environmental Health News. The study was published this month in PLOS One. “Our research suggests that environmental factors may be contributing to attention problems in a significant way,” the lead author of the study told Environmental Health News.

“Previous studies by the Columbia University researchers linked prenatal PAHs [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons] to reduced IQs, anxiety and depression, attention problems and developmental delays in younger children, between the ages of 3 and 7,” reported Environmental Health News. “In addition to PAHs, a variety of other pollutants have been linked to ADHD or ADHD-like behaviors. Included are organophosphate pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), phthalates and perfluorinated compounds.”

In the most recent PLOS One study, the researchers followed the children of 233 African-American and Dominican women living in New York City over nine years, relating the amount of the pollutant in their blood when they were pregnant to later ADHD diagnoses in their children.

(Full text) Early-Life Exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and ADHD Behavior Problems (Perera, Frederica P. et al. PLOS One. November 05, 2014. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111670)

Air pollution linked to children’s attention problems (Environmental Health News, November 5, 2014)