Pollution and IQ
New research adds an exclamation point to previous research about how damaging air pollution is to early stage brain development. Researchers found that toddlers exposed to particulate matter score lower on IQ tests—losing as many as 2.63 points on those exams for every 2 micrograms per cubic meter of PM2.5. To put that in context, PM2.5 concentrations average about 9 along the Wasatch Front (the EPA annual average standard is far too high, at 12). This study would indicate that the amount of annual average pollution along the Wasatch Front would be responsible for a shocking loss of nearly 12 IQ points! As little as 2 ppb prenatal exposure to NOx was associated with more behavioral problems in toddler-age children.
“One of the researchers, Kaja LeVine, a social epidemiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, said that while the study’s findings are compelling in their own right, they also add to a growing body of research on the effects of air pollution on children, particularly from low-income families and marginalized communities” an article writes.
This is one of our main reasons for partnering with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services on an air purifiers in schools program. Air purifiers in classrooms can help significantly reduce pollution exposure for children through crucial years of their brain development. Studies show that children are much more impacted by the health consequences of air pollution. Air purifiers, while important for all children, are especially important in lower income areas where students are exposed to higher levels of pollution.
UPHE is excited to be partnering with the Utah Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to place air purifiers in every K through 12 school classroom in the state. This air purifiers in schools program obviously cannot address prenatal air pollution exposure. But because the brain continues to develop throughout childhood, it is important to reduce air pollution exposure in schools as well. In fact children in schools with air purifiers and cleaner air have better cognition, memory, learning ability and overall academic achievement.