Improving Air Quality in NYC Would Boost Children’s Future Earnings

Research from the Mailman School of Public Health shows that reducing air pollution in New York City would result in substantial economic gains for children as a result of increasing their IQs.

The study, the first to estimate the costs of IQ loss associated with exposure to air pollution, is based on prior research on prenatal exposure to air pollutants among low-income children by Frederica Perera, PhD, lead author of the current study, and colleagues at the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health at the Mailman School.

The researchers previously reported that children born to nonsmoking mothers exposed to higher levels of airborne PAH during pregnancy had IQs three points lower at age 5 than children whose mothers had lower PAH exposures. The IQ reduction was modest but in the range of that seen with low levels of lead.

“Our analysis suggests that a modest reduction in urban air pollution would provide substantial economic benefits and help children realize their full potential,” says Dr. Perera.

Full results are published in the Journal of Public Health Policy.

To learn more, read the full press release from the Mailman School of Public Health.