FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 21, 2019

Washington, D.C.—Today, leading environmental health experts released an article in the American Journal of Public Health citing mounting evidence linking air pollution to neurodevelopmental disorders in children, like autism, ADHD, memory deficiencies and reduced IQ. The authors called on government officials to take swift action to reduce toxic air pollution and protect children’s brain development.

“An increasing body of studies strongly suggests that air pollution exposure can have long term impacts on brain development in children,” said Melanie Marty, a co-author of the paper and former chair of U.S. EPA’s Children’s Health Protection Advisory Committee. “It’s not just cardiovascular and respiratory disease in adults we need to consider – air pollution must be limited to protect the health of our children’s developing brains.”

The paper, which focused on combustion-related air pollutants from burning of fossil fuel, agricultural waste, and from wildfires, includes specific recommendations for federal and local government officials to protect children, chief among them a call to strengthen and enforce the fuel efficiency standards already in place.

“If these recommendations are taken seriously, fewer children will face the challenge of living with neurodevelopmental disorders and more people will be able to fully participate in society across their life span,” the authors wrote.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under President Trump has a long record of ignoring science on the dangers of a multitude of toxic chemicals. An investigation by the New York Times in December found that the Trump administration had rolled back, or was in the process of rolling back, 21 federal protections related to air pollution and emissions.

“Low-income communities are particularly susceptible to a host of toxic chemicals, including air pollution,” said Devon C. Payne-Sturges, the paper’s lead author and former Assistant Director for U.S. EPA’s National Center for Environmental Research. “The most effective way to ensure we’re protecting children’s brain development, regardless of socioeconomic status or ethnicity, is to limit these toxic air pollutants as a group.”


Read the full paper here.

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