Another Worry For The Bronx: A Link Between Air Pollution and Adolescent ADHD

Is this stunting our mental development? (Flickr/DaiLuo)
Is this stunting our mental development? (Flickr/DaiLuo)

The Bronx has long been a dumping ground which has had a detrimental effect on the environment and in turn in the health of its residents.  The Blinker showed us how Bronx neighborhoods of University Heights, Morris Heights, Kingsbridge, Mount Hope and Fordham had some of the highest concentrations of sulfur in the city.

The Blinker said:

“But why care about sulfur? Even without the lessons learned from that episode of “Hey Arnold!” when the protagonist traveled into the sulfuric depths of a Brooklyn-esque city, most people would agree that the less sulfur they inhale, the better off their bodies. Indeed, the EPA warns of severe health dangers from even short-term exposure to sulfur. “Current scientific evidence links short-term exposures to SO2, ranging from 5 minutes to 24 hours, with an array of adverse respiratory effects including bronchoconstriction and increased asthma symptoms,” says the EPA’s website, “these effects are particularly important for asthmatics at elevated ventilation rates (e.g., while exercising or playing.)”

Studies show a connection between short term sulfur exposure and increased emergency room visits and hospitalizations for respiratory illnesses, according to the EPA. “SOx can react with other compounds in the atmosphere to form small particles. These particles penetrate deeply into sensitive parts of the lungs and can cause or worsen respiratory disease, such as emphysema and bronchitis, and can aggravate existing heart disease, leading to increased hospital admissions and premature death,” says the EPA’s website.”

And The Bronx is no stranger to asthma and heart disease.  We have one of the highest rates of asthma in the country and in New York City we have 21x the hospitalization rate from this ailment.

Now CityLab from the Atlantic reports that there is a possible link between air pollution and adolescent ADHD in a study which focused on the South Bronx amongst several other NYC neighborhoods:

Researchers from Columbia University and elsewhere have found a possible link between air pollution and adolescent ADHD. According to the report, published today in the journal PLOS ONE, pregnant women from New York City exposed to certain air pollutants were more likely to birth a child with ADHD. The pollutants —polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)—are released into the atmosphere through the burning of coal, tobacco, and petrol.

The research team monitored 233 nonsmoking women living in Harlem, Washington Heights, and the Bronx. The women and their household pollutant levels were monitored from the time of pregnancy until their children reached the age of 9. Those living in highly polluted areas were five times as likely to give birth to a child that developed ADHD during the course of the study. (The researchers controlled a number of factors, including; sex of the child, the child’s ethnicity, the mother’s education level, maternal ADHD symptoms, and quality of home caretaking environment).

“This study suggests that exposure to PAH encountered in New York City air may play a role in childhood ADHD,” explains Dr. Frederica Perera, the report’s lead author.

Can we really afford to allow more trucks into our neighborhoods and exacerbate an already critical situation? Please EMAIL the Empire State Development corporation and tell them enough is enough.

Read the rest via A Link Between Air Pollution and Adolescent ADHD – CityLab.

Watch NY1’s report on the study:

Go over to Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health to read more.
Or read the full research article at PLOS

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Ed García Conde

Ed García Conde is a life-long Bronxite who spends his time documenting the people, places, and things that make the borough a special place in the hopes of dispelling the negative stereotypes associated with The Bronx. His writings are often cited by mainstream media and is often consulted for his expertise on the borough's rich history.