Wednesday, May 28, 2014

What is the Impact of Air Pollution on IQ and Lifetime Earnings?

Prenatal exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and IQ: Estimated benefit of pollution reduction (Abstract, Frederica Perera, Katherine Weiland, Matthew Neidell and Shuang Wang, Journal of Public Health Policy, May8, 2014)

Also discussed here: Improving air quality in NYC would boost children's future earnings by increasing IQ (ScienceDaily, May 8 2014)

Today we review research into the link between a pollutant associated with the burning of fossil fuels in an urban environment (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAH) and the impact on a child’s IQ, and further, how a lower or higher IQ affects lifetime earnings by that child. The impact of air pollution on aging and seniors has been studied as has the impact on pregnant women and the health of their babies but this is the first we have seen to make the link to IQ and lifetime earnings. Results indicate that a 25% decrease in PAH translates to an increase of $215 earnings for the population of New York City.

NYC pollution  

Key Quotes:

“The developing fetus and young child are especially vulnerable to neurotoxicants, such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) released to ambient air by combustion of fossil fuel and other organic material”

"Our analysis suggests that a modest reduction in urban air pollution would provide substantial economic benefits and help children realize their full potential…The researchers made their calculation using a hypothesized modest reduction of .25 nanograms per cubic meter air (ng/m3) of ambient concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), a family of chemicals created by burning fossil fuels that is ubiquitous in urban air"

“Gains in IQ related to the hypothetical 25% reduction in PAH translated to increased lifetime earnings of $215 million.”
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