Urban Air Pollution from Burning Fossil Fuels Reduces Children’s Intelligence
Yet another study that confirms the urgent need to switch to cleaner energy sources for health reasons. Here we have unborn children affected by the air pollution their mothers breathe. Burning fossil fuels releases polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) which we all breathe in but these chemicals affect the mental development of unborn children. Other new studies show smog causes increases in heart attacks, and reduces blood’s ability to transport oxygen.
So why the high-profile fight over climate change and urgent need to reduce fossil fuel use? Might it happen that fossil energy companies desperate to protect hundreds of billions of dollars of proﬁts, actively encourage (if not directly fund) confusion regarding the inconvenient scientiﬁc results on climate and public health? — Stephen
April 2010 — A study by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCCEH) carried out in Krakow, Poland has found that prenatal exposure to pollutants can adversely affect children’s cognitive development at age 5, confirming previous findings in a New York City (NYC) study.
Researchers report that children exposed to high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) in Krakow had a significant reduction in scores on a standardized test of reasoning ability and intelligence at age 5. The study findings are published today online in Environmental Health Perspectives.
PAHs are released into the air from the burning of fossil fuels for transportation, heating, energy production, and from other combustion sources.
“The effect on intelligence was comparable to that seen in NYC children exposed prenatally to the same air pollutants,” noted Frederica Perera, professor of Environmental Health Sciences and director of the CCCEH at the Mailman School of Public Health, and senior author. “This finding is of concern because IQ is an important predictor of future academic performance, and PAHs are widespread in urban environments and throughout the world.”
“These results contribute to the cumulative body of published evidence linking ambient air pollution levels and adverse health effects in children and are clearly relevant to public health policy,” says Susan Edwards, study lead author.