Healthy Family | Home Safety | Health and Wealth | Relationship Issues | Career Advice | Growing Family
Get the SixWise e-Newsletter FREE!
Google Web
Free Newsletter Subscription
Get the Web's Most trusted & Informative Health, Wealth, Safety & More Newsletter -- FREE!


Share Email to a Friend Print This

Can Air Pollution Impact Your Child’s Intelligence?
Surprising New Research Revealed



Air pollution has been linked to cancer, respiratory problems and even genetic abnormalities, but now researchers have linked it to a health effect that may surprise you: lower intelligence.

Exposure to air pollution while pregnant could have a serious impact on your baby’s IQ.

A new study published in Pediatrics has shown, for the first, time, that air pollution exposure before birth may lead to lower IQ scores in childhood. The finding suggests that air pollution may be hazardous for developing babies’ brains. 

The study involved 249 children born to women living in New York City. The women wore backpack air monitors for 48 hours during the last months of pregnancy and had various exposures to typical air pollution from car, bus and truck exhaust.

When the children reached age 5 they were then given IQ tests (before starting school). It turned out that those exposed to the most pollution in the form of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) before birth scored four to five points lower than children with less exposure -- enough of a decline to impact their performance in school.

The finding was so concerning that Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins' school of public health, told the Associated Press the study suggests exposure to air pollution before birth could have similar harmful effects on the developing brain as exposure to lead.

Previous studies done by the same research team have also linked prenatal exposure to air pollution to:

  • Genetic abnormalities at birth that may increase cancer risks

  • Smaller newborn head size

  • Reduced birth weight

  • Developmental delays at age 3

  • Children’s asthma

How are You Primarily Exposed to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons?

Most commonly, PAHs are released into the air when fossil fuels, gasoline and garbage are burned, and as such perhaps the most common route of exposure to these chemicals is by breathing contaminated air.

PAHs exist in cigarette smoke, wood smoke, vehicle exhaust, diesel exhaust and asphalt roads, as well as in the air of industrial coking, coal-tar and asphalt production facilities, along with trash-incinerating facilities.

Because of this, air in urban areas may have PAH levels 10 times higher than those in rural areas.

PAHs are not only found in heavy traffic areas, however. They are also created when meats are barbecued, smoked or charbroiled. Other foods, including roasted coffee, roasted peanuts, refined vegetable oils and any food grown in PAH-contaminated soil (such as near a hazardous waste site) may also contain the chemicals, as can processed and pickled foods.

Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons can also contaminate soil and water supplies, and certain areas in the United States have shown low-level PAHs in their water. The compounds are so widespread that simply coming into contact with air, water or soil around a hazardous waste site can increase your exposure.

Finally, PAHs are used in certain cosmetics, shampoos and hair dyes (anything that contains coal tar), and you may absorb some of the chemicals if you use these products. They're also present in certain household products, including creosote-treated wood and mothballs.

Exposure to PAHs has previously been linked to cancer, cataracts, kidney and liver damage and other diseases.

10 Steps to Reduce Your PAH Exposure

Air pollution, including PAHs, are ubiquitous in the environment but there are steps you can take to cut your exposure, especially if you are pregnant or have small children.

  1. Keep your windows and doors closed and running your air conditioner (make sure the filter is clean)

  2. Avoind going outside when pollution levels are highest (typically midday and afternoon)

  3. Avoid exercising during rush-hour traffic or near congested streets

  4. Drink plenty of fluids to keep your respiratory tract moist

Purify Your Air, Fast, With PIONAIR

With the PIONAIR Air Treatment System you can remove smoke, dust, pet dander, mold, bacteria, pollen and more from your home and office air so you can breathe freely.

All PIONAIR Systems include a 30-Day Money-Back Guarantee!

And for a LIMITED TIME ONLY, Get $30 Off Each PIONAIR Air Treatment Unit, Plus FREE SHIPPING and a FREE MiniMate Refrigerator Unit!

pionair air treatment Choose Your PIONAIR System and Order Now

To reduce your exposure to PAHs, specifically:

  1. Quit smoking if you do, and try not to be around second-hand tobacco smoke

  1. Cut back on, or eliminate, charbroiled, smoked and barbecued foods from your diet

  1. Reduce your use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces

  1. Don't use cosmetics, shampoos and hair dyes that contain coal tar

  1. Don't use mothballs, moth flakes or deodorant cakes (try cedar shavings or aromatic herbs instead)

  1. Avoid skin contact with creosote-treated wood products (wear gloves, long pants and long sleeves when handling them

PAHs are even found in house dust, so we highly recommend regularly dusting your home using the PerfectClean line of mops, dusters, towels and more, which are used by leading hospitals and other health care organizations.

Rather than just pushing dust around, or worse, stirring it up into the air, PerfectClean's EasyGrip Mop and Flexible Duster are made with positively charged ultramicrofibers that pick up everything in their path -- including dust and all of its microscopic attachments. These ultramicrofibers are so small at an astonishing 3 microns that they're even smaller than most bacteria (each cleaning cloth contains over 300 miles of actual cleaning surface!). They pick up contaminants either used dry or dampened with water -- no harsh cleaners needed.

Ultramicrofibers, at just 3 microns, are even smaller than many bacteria! Wet or dry, the cloths pick up everything in their path!

Learn More About PerfectClean Cloths Now!

Choosing PerfectClean's ultramicrofiber cloths, mops and wipes are by far the smartest choice -- and the most economical since each cloth can be used over 100 times before being replaced -- for dusting in your home.

The other highly recommended step to creating a clean indoor environment is to purify your indoor air. The PIONAIR Air Treatment System, which highly recommends, uses photocatalysis, which is designed to oxidize organic odors, germs, and fungi. The PIONAIR technology creates ultraviolet light rays, safe levels of ozone, and passive negative ions as part of your air treatment. This is not just any old air filter -- it is an air purifier that duplicates Nature's own methods of air cleaning and revitalization.

It’s a sad fact that air pollution is now a concern for nearly all of us. But the good news is a bit of prevention, including keeping house dust to a minimum and filtering your home’s air, can help to keep you and your family healthy.

Recommended Reading

Air Pollution Puts 2 Million Americans at Risk of Cancer, EPA Says

Surprising Facts About Air Pollution and How to Protect Yourself


Pediatrics Vol. 124 No. 2 August 2009, pp. e195-e202

Yahoo News July 20, 2009

To get more information about this and other highly important topics, sign up for your free subscription to our weekly "Be Safe, Live Long & Prosper" e-newsletter.

With every issue of the free newsletter, you’ll get access to the insights, products, services, and more that can truly improve your well-being, peace of mind, and therefore your life!

Share Email to a Friend Print This