Utne Blogs > Environment

Pollution Makes Kids Dumb

 by Bennett Gordon


Tags: Environment, pollution, IQ, intelligence, Science News,

Traffic Pollution

Polluted urban air can knock some 4.5 points off of a child’s IQ, according to research cited in Science News. Studying 249 mothers-to-be, the researchers found that exposure to common hydrocarbons—mostly from traffic—can significantly lower a child’s IQ by age 3. The pollution acts much like lead, in that any exposure, no matter how small, appears to have an effect on mental development. While 4.5 points on an IQ test may not seem like a lot, the article reports that “it’s in the range of what might be triggered by exposures to high levels of lead or by fetal alcohol syndrome.”

Source: Science News

Image by Simone Ramella, licensed under Creative Commons.

 

thom peterson
8/9/2009 1:47:47 PM

Sad news. Sadder still is the fact that this information is not really that new. If not necessarily carried out to IQ decimal points, the danger of auto and truck emissions to young children is nonetheless copiously documented in environmental health research going back to the 1970s. One study was the "Six Cities Study," (1973?) which was used to try to convince federal agencies to insist on cleaner diesel engines. It was no-go for 20 years. Finally Carol Browner agreed to act in the mid-90s. Even then the rules were passed in 1997 and did not take effect until 2007. To top it all off, 2006 was a banner year for heavy truck sales--every commercial hauler wanted to buy a dirty diesel before they were forced to buy a clean one. Don't these people know anyone who has suffered from the poisons billowing into the air?