According to the latest estimates, about 2 billion children around the world are exposed to severe urban outdoor air pollution. Transdisciplinary, multi-method findings from epidemiology, developmental neuroscience, psychology, and pediatrics, show detrimental outcomes associated with pre- and postnatal exposure are found at all ages. Affected brain-related functions include perceptual and sensory information processing, intellectual and cognitive development, memory and executive functions, emotion and self-regulation, and academic achievement. Correspondingly, with the breakdown of natural barriers against entry and translocation of toxic particles in the brain, the most common structural changes are responses promoting neuroinflammation and indicating early neurodegenerative processes. In spite of the gaps in current scientific knowledge and the challenges posed by non-scientific issues that influence policy, the evidence invites the conclusion that urban outdoor air pollution is a serious threat to healthy brain development which may set the conditions for neurodegenerative diseases. Such evidence supports the perspective that urgent strategic precautionary actions, minimizing exposure and attenuating its effects, are needed to protect children and their brain development.
… continue reading Severe Urban Outdoor Air Pollution and Children’s Structural and Functional Brain Development, From Evidence to Precautionary Strategic Action on Frontiers in Public Health, April 2018.
Featured image credit Bon Bahar.