lung infection

Air pollution makes our kids dumber and sicker

Two recent studies suggest that air pollution at levels common in urban areas causes children to have higher rates of a potentially fatal lung infection and reduces the IQ levels of the kids exposed most heavily in the womb.

All this happens at air-pollution levels common in urban areas. 

The finding about the dumber kids exposed in the womb comes out of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environ­mental Health in New York City, where scientists equipped expectant mothers to wear air-pollution monitors as they went about their daily routine.

One finding, outlined in Scientific American this week and much earlier on a site called Pregnant women who experienced the highest exposures to pollutants known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons had children with IQ scores four points lower on average than kids born to less-exposed mothers. SciAm's Sunny Sea Gold's story says there's more from another study:

Children’s growing brains are not the only ones affected by this dirty air. A 2008 study in 20- to 50-year-olds conducted jointly by the schools of public health at Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill pinpointed ozone-related reductions in attention, short-term memory and reaction times equivalent to up to 3.5 to five years of age-related decline.

Meanwhile, here in Rain City, MSNBC and Discovery News bring us the tale of  University of Washington researcher Catherine Karr, who just released a study stating that ongoing exposures to air pollution increases a baby's chances of coming down with a lung infection called bronchiolitis.