News
2/2/2017

ISGlobal and CEXS-UPF: Traffic-related air pollution negatively affects children's attention in the short term

ISGlobal and CEXS-UPF: Traffic-related air pollution negatively affects children's attention in the short term


News from ISGlobal and CEXS-UPF


The long-term effects of air pollution on neural development are well understood and now a team of ISGlobal researchers has found evidence that these pollutants also have acute effects. The study, published in Epidemiology, shows that daily fluctuations in the levels of two traffic-related pollutants—nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and elemental carbon (also known as black carbon)—are associated with fluctuations in attention function in children.

This study followed on from earlier research that had established an association in school children between exposure to traffic-related air pollutants and the development of attention and memory function in the long term. In order to further investigate the impact of traffic-related pollution on neurological development in children, the present study monitored some 2,700 children in about 300 classrooms in 39 schools in Barcelona.

Throughout the year, the scientists visited each school four times. In the course of these visits they measured four different domains related to attention processes using computerised tests. The results of these tests were then compared to daily measurements of NO2 and elemental carbon levels inside and outside the classrooms. The analysis revealed an association between increased ambient levels of traffic-related pollutants and reductions in all the processes related to attention function in the classrooms. 

More information:

ISGlobal website and CEXS-UPF website

Reference article:
Sunyer J, Suades-González E, García-Esteban R, Rivas I, Pujol J, Alvarez-Pedrerol M, Forns J, Querol X, Basagaña X. Traffic-related air pollution and attention in primary school children: short-term association. Epidemiology. 2016 Nov 29