Spanish study shows traffic-related air pollution negatively affects children’s attention in the short term
Date added: June 4, 2017
Research from Barcelona’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, by a team of ISGlobal researchers, indicates that on days with high air pollution, there was a marked reduction in the children’s ability to focus on problem-solving tasks. The study looked at two traffic-related pollutants—nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon (also known as black carbon). The children who had been exposed to high air pollution on their way to school took longer to respond to questions and found it harder than usual to concentrate. On average, their brain function slowed to the point where attention span was that of someone a month younger. Scientists tracked 2,700 pupils aged 7 to 10, in about 300 classrooms in 39 schools in the city of Barcelona. They tested their ability to pay attention in class and comparing the results with peaks and troughs in air quality. This shows children’s brains work less well when are exposed to high levels of air pollution, especially from diesel. This research suggests that polluted air in Britain’s cities is negatively affecting youngsters’ brains as well as their lungs. Fine particles in diesel fumes raise our risk of suffering heart damage and an early death. The same team in 2015 found pupils’ brain function developed at a slower rate if exposed to high levels of air pollution.
There is a short video extract about the researchhere
Traffic-Related Air Pollution Negatively Affects Children’s Attention in the Short Term
Photo of the tests to schoolchildren in Barcelona in the context of the Breathe project.
Study published in Epidemiology provides new evidence on the impact of air pollution on neurological development
The long-term effects of air pollution on neural development are well understood and now a team of ISGlobal researchers has found evidence that these pollutants also have acute effects. The study, published in Epidemiology, shows that daily fluctuations in the levels of two traffic-related pollutants—nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon (also known as black carbon)—are associated with fluctuations in attention function in children.
This study followed on from earlier research that had established an association in school children between exposure to traffic-related air pollutants and the development of attention and memory function in the long term. In order to further investigate the impact of traffic-related pollution on neurological development in children, the present study monitored some 2,700 children in about 300 classrooms in 39 schools in the city of Barcelona.
Throughout the year, the scientists visited each school four times. In the course of these visits they measured four different domains related to attention processes using computerised tests. The results of these tests were then compared to daily measurements of NO2 and elemental carbon levels inside and outside the classrooms.
The analysis revealed an association between increased ambient levels of traffic-related pollutants and reductions in all the processes related to attention function in the classrooms. In fact, on the days the children were exposed to higher levels of pollution, the impairment in their performance was equivalent to a retardation of more than one month in the natural developmental improvement in response speed that would normally be expected as a consequence of age-related development.
“The children’s response was slower and less consistent on the days when traffic-related air pollution levels were higher” explains the study’s first author Jordi Sunyer, who is an ISGlobal researcher and a professor at the Pompeu Fabra University. “We don’t know what impact this effect might have on their learning processes; the estimated effect was modest on the individual level, but when we extrapolate this kind of collective exposure with small effects on cognitive function to the population as a whole, the impact is significant. These findings provide us with yet another piece of evidence demonstrating the need to prevent air pollution close to schools, particularly pollution caused by diesel vehicles”.
Facebook Live with Jordi Sunyer
In the context of the publication of this paper, on February 1st 2017, ISGlobal will offer a live interview with Jordi Sunyer on the institute’s Facebook page.On this Facebook Live session, the ISGlobal researcher and UPF professor will take answers from viewers.
Children’s brains slow down when they are exposed to high levels of air pollution, according to an alarming study.
Pupils who breathed in toxic diesel fumes on the way to school struggled to perform as well as normal, scientists found.
The children took longer to respond to questions and found it harder than usual to concentrate.
Pupil’s who breathe in toxic air on their way to school take longer to respond to question and have a harder time concentrating
On days when air pollution peaked, the problems worsened.
The disturbing findings appear to confirm some scientists’ fears that polluted air in Britain’s cities is poisoning youngsters’ brains as well as their lungs. Earlier this year a study linked toxic air to 40,000 deaths a year in the UK – and Brussels warned Britain it could face fines if it continued to breach EU air pollution limits.
Prime Minister Theresa May recently warned that air pollution was the fourth biggest health risk behind cancer, obesity and heart disease.
Earlier in 2017 a study linked toxic air to has many has 40,000 deaths a year in the UK
She said high levels of emissions by diesel-powered vehicles were largely to blame.
The latest alert comes from Barcelona’s Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology.
Scientists tracked 2,600 pupils aged seven to ten, testing their ability to pay attention in class and comparing the results with peaks and troughs in air quality.
The results, published in the journal Epidemiology, revealed that on days when noxious traffic fumes were at their highest, there was a marked reduction in the children’s ability to focus on problem-solving tasks.
On average, their brain function slowed to the point where attention span was that of someone a month younger.
Fine particles in diesel fumes raise our risk of suffering heart damage and an early death
Diesel and carbon emissions contain ‘neurotoxic’ elements which may be harming children’s brains, the scientists warned.
They said: ‘Air pollution may have potential harmful effects on neurodevelopment. Our study suggests traffic pollution could affect the cognitive performance of school children.
‘Children’s performance was slower and less consistent throughout the test on days with higher levels of ambient trafficrelated air pollution. Diesel emissions in particular could affect cognitive performance.’ The same team in 2015 found pupils’ brain function developed at a slower rate if exposed to high levels of air pollution.
Research by King’s College indicates diesel air pollutants can weaken people’s immune systems
December 9, 2016
Dr Ian Mudway, of King’s College London, has warned that thousands of Londoners may be having their immune system slowly aggravated by the effects of diesel fumes. The very young and very old – and those with existing lung conditions – are particularly vulnerable to being harmed by particulate air pollution. At a meeting of the British Thoracic Society meeting, Dr Mudway said pollution from combusting diesel is also suspected to be gradually attacking some people’s immune system, meaning they will be more likely to suffer illnesses. These impacts may be slow and insidious, only manifesting slowly as we age. A person’s genetic make-up is a key factor to whether they susceptible to the immune system damage. Research indicates that diesel exhausts including tiny PM2.5 particulates which can get deep into lungs, interact with immune cells in ways that may make the airways more susceptible to infections and allergic reactions. Dr Mudway said: “Some people are almost bullet proof, other people will be very sensitive to it.” Many of the health impacts of air pollution are “sub-clinical”, so do not show up immediately with symptoms. They may, however, be having long term effects. Earlier research in 2010 showed the impact of air pollution in influencing a gene, which resulted in increasing the severity of asthma in children. http://www.airportwatch.org.uk/2016/12/research-by-kings-college-indicates-diesel-air-pollutants-can-weaken-peoples-immune-systems/..
Air pollution from PM2.5 particulates implicated in increasing risk of premature births
February 19, 2017
Reducing air pollution from the tiny particles, PM2.5 may help to prevent 2.7 million premature births per year worldwide, according to a study published in Environment International. These particles come from sources such as diesel powered vehicles, fires and other sources. Worldwide about 10% of births are classed as preterm, and for these babies there can be significant short and long-term health implications – depending on how early the baby was born. Problems associated with prematurity are the top cause of death among children under 5 years old, and has also been associated with learning and developmental disabilities as well as an increased risk of psychiatric disorders. The number of premature births caused by this air pollution in the UK per year might be as much as 4,500. The worst problems are in south and south east Asia, including India and China. The study considered that about 18% of all pre-term births were associated with the particulate pollution in 2010. Other factors linked to pre-term birth are maternal age (young and old), multiple pregnancy (twins etc.), social and personal/lifestyle factors such as poverty, maternal education, prenatal care, physical activity, diet, and alcohol and drug consumption.
Research indicates minute particles of magnetite from car pollution in human brain tissue
September 6, 2016
Recent research by Lancaster University indicates that as well as heart and lung effects of air pollution, tiny particles of pollution appear to get inside brain tissue. Called “nanospheres”, the particles are less than 200 nanometres in diameter – by comparison, a human hair is at least 50,000 nanometres thick. They are made of magnetite, which is a compound of iron and appear to come from car engines or braking systems. These magnetite particles may be small enough to pass from the nose into the olfactory bulb and then via the nervous system into the frontal cortex of the brain. Iron is a very reactive metal, so it is likely they will cause oxidative damage in brain tissue. It is already known that oxidative damage contributes to brain damage in Alzheimer’s patients. It is not known whether these particles could contribute to dementia, but there might be plausible mechanisms for a link. The research, published in the PNAS, analysed samples of brain tissue from 37 people – 29 who had lived and died in Mexico City, a notorious pollution hotspot, and who were aged from 3 to 85. The other 8 came from Manchester, were aged 62-92 and some had died with varying severities of neurodegenerative disease. The particles issue is yet another reason not to permit vehicle pollution levels to rise, for public health.