Mounting evidence indicates that early-life exposure to particulate air pollutants pose threats to children’s cognitive development, but studies about the neurotoxic effects associated with exposures during adolescence remain unclear. Study authors examined whether exposure to ambient fine particles (PM2.5) at residential locations affects intelligence quotient (IQ) during pre-/early- adolescence (ages 9–11) and emerging adulthood (ages 18–20) in a demographically-diverse population (N = 1,360) residing in Southern California.
Increased ambient PM2.5 levels were associated with decreased IQ scores. This association was more evident for Performance IQ (PIQ), but less for Verbal IQ, assessed by the Wechsler Abbreviated Scale of Intelligence. For each inter-quartile increase in one-year PM2.5 preceding each assessment, the average PIQ score decreased by 3.08 points accounting for within-family/within-individual correlations, demographic characteristics, family socioeconomic status (SES), parents’ cognitive abilities, neighborhood characteristics, and other spatial confounders. The adverse effect was 150 percent greater in low SES families and 89% stronger in males, compared to their counterparts.
- Pan Wang, PhD
- et al