Air pollution. It exacerbates climate change, raises asthma rates, is even linked to appendicitis and now, it’s been proven to affect children’s mental development.
AP reports on a study published in the August issue of the journal Pediatrics that demonstrates for the first time a connection between air pollution and lower IQ. A group of New York City women were outfitted with backpack monitors to measure air pollution exposure for 48 hours during the last few months before birth. Their 249 children were given IQ tests at age five: “those exposed to the most pollution before birth scored on average four to five points lower than children with less exposure.”
Air pollution has been shown to hurt people in low-income areas more, since polluting entities frequently build in low-rent districts where there is less political power and more hunger for tax dollars. But we are all affected, right now.A The American Lung Associations asserts, for instance, that 90% of Californians breathe unhealthy air at some point in a year. An EPA study finds that New York residents face a far higher than “average” risk of cancer from air pollutants. As is so often the case, the developing world is suffering the most from unregulated pollution. In 2007 the World Bank estimated that over 700,000 deaths annually can be attributed to air pollution….in China alone. (And those figures were hidden from the Chinese people.)
The researchers will continue monitoring and testing the children to assess school performance and watch for other long-term effects. Data and research are essential and should continue, but how much more evidence do we really need to know that more must be done to curb pollution? On Care2, there are over 100 petitions on the topic of pollution. Our individual actions, from driving to using fireplaces to voting, are vital to help ourselves, our fellow creatures…and our kids.
Ed Yourdon, Creative Commons