Monday, July 20, 2009

Your Clean Air Actions Can Help Increase the IQ of New York Children…

Today, an interesting – and disheartening – study was released by the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. The study followed 249 pregnant New York City women and tracked the quality of the air they would breathe each day through a backpack air quality monitor. Five years later, their children were given an IQ test. The study showed that the children of mothers who were exposed to a higher level of air pollution scored significantly lower than those whose mothers were exposed to less air pollution.

Don’t worry – according to Dr. Michael Msall, a pediatrician with the University of Chicago, the study doesn’t mean that children exposed to air pollution "aren't going to learn to read and write and spell."

However, while the study may not mean that poor air quality = low IQ, it does show that it is most likely an influence of some kind.

The study points to vehicle exhaust as the primary source of the air pollution that the pregnant mothers were exposed to. This just reiterates the importance of our simple, everyday clean air actions.

It seems that we can add pregnant mothers to the list of groups that are most at-risk to the negative effects of poor air quality (already on the list: children, teens, senior citizens, people with pre-existing cardiovascular or respiratory issues, diabetes, or other chronic health problems). These groups should be most careful on Air Quality Action Days, and try and stay indoors whenever possible.

What else can we do? Next time you go to a fast food restaurant, go inside instead of idling your car in the drive-thru window. Take the train instead of driving. Carpool with a friend whenever you can – you’ll get to use the HOV lane and you’ll cut back on vehicle exhaust emissions.

These actions – as we now know – can help all New Yorkers – even the ones who haven’t been born yet!

Amanda Moss, Clean Air NY Marketing and Outreach Coordinator.

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