Polluting Young Minds
THE SOURCE: “Air Pollution Around Schools Is Linked to Poorer Student Health and Academic Performance” by Paul Mohai, Byoung-Suk Kweon, Sangyun Lee, and Kerry Ard, in Health Affairs , May 2011.
Air pollution is not good for anybody, but it’s particularly harmful to children. With their high respiration rates, kids take in more polluted air relative to their body weight than adults do. And because their bodies are still developing, they are especially vulnerable to pollution’s effects. Lead and manganese, for example, have a direct impact on children’s brains. “Children exposed to air pollution perform worse on cognitive functioning tests and have impaired neurological function and lower IQ scores compared with other children,” report Paul Mohai, who teaches environmental policy at the University of Michigan, and three colleagues. In light of this evidence, say the authors, it’s bad news that many schools are located very close to significant sources of air pollution.
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