News
5/10/2017

ISGlobal: Air pollution exposure on home-to-school walking routes reduces the growth of working memory in children

ISGlobal: Air pollution exposure on home-to-school walking routes reduces the growth of working memory in children


News from ISGlobal


A study led by the ISGlobal has demonstrated that exposure to air pollution on the way to school can have damaging effects on children’s cognitive development. The study, published in Environmental Pollution, found an association between a reduction in working memory and exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and black carbon during the walking commute to and from school.

The study was carried out in the framework of the BREATHE project. “The results of earlier toxicological and experimental studies have shown that these short exposures to very high concentrations of pollutants can have a disproportionately high impact on health” explains Mar Álvarez-Pedrerol, ISGlobal researcher and first author of the study. “The detrimental effects may be particularly marked in children because of their smaller lung capacity and higher respiratory rate,” she adds.

The study was carried out in Barcelona and enrolled over 1,200 children aged from 7 to 10, from 39 schools, all of whom walked to school on a daily basis. The children’s working memory and attention capacity was assessed several times during the 12-month study. Their exposure to air pollution over the same period was calculated on the basis of estimated levels on the shortest walking route to their school.

More information:
ISGlobal website

Reference article:
Alvarez-Pedrerol M, Rivas I, López-Vicente M, et al. Impact of commuting exposure to traffic-related air pollution on cognitive development in children walking to school. Environ Pollut. 2017 Aug 31;231(Pt 1):837-844. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2017.08.075.