Neurodevelopmental deceleration by urban fine particles from different emission sources: a longitudinal observational study
Basagana, X., Esnaola, M., Rivas, I., Amato, F., Alvarez-Pedrerol, M., Forns Guzman, J., Lopez-Vicente, M., Pujol, J., Nieuwenhuijsen, M., Querol, X., & Sunyer, J. (2016). Neurodevelopmental deceleration by urban fine particles from different emission sources: a longitudinal observational study. Environmental Health Perspectives, 124(10), 1630–1636. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1289/EHP209
BACKGROUND: A few studies have reported associations between traffic-related air pollution exposure at schools and cognitive development. The role of PM components or sources other than traffic on cognitive development has been little explored.OBJECTIVES: We aimed to explore the role of PM sources in school air on cognitive development.METHODS: A cohort of 2,618 schoolchildren (average age, 8.5 years) belonging to 39 schools in Barcelona (Spain) was followed up for a year. Children completed computerized tests assessing working memory, superior working memory, and inattentiveness during four visits. Particulate matter <= 2.5 mu m (PM2.5) was measured during two 1-week campaigns in each school, both outdoors and in the classroom. Source apportionment resulted in nine sources: mineral, organic/textile/chalk, traffic, secondary sulfate and organics, secondary nitrate, road dust, metallurgy, sea spray, and heavy oil combustion. Differences in cognitive growth trajectories were assessed with mixed models with age-by-source interaction terms.RESULTS: An interquartile range increase in indoor traffic-related PM2.5 was associated with reductions in cognitive growth equivalent to 22% (95% CI: 2%, 42%) of the annual change in working memory, 30% (95% CI: 6%, 54%) of the annual change in superior working memory, and 11% (95% CI: 0%, 22%) of the annual change in the inattentiveness scale. None of the other PM2.5 sources was associated with adverse effects on cognitive development.CONCLUSIONS: Traffic was the only source of fine particles associated with a reduction in cognitive development. Reducing air pollution from traffic at primary schools may result in beneficial effects on cognition.