Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Environ Health Perspect. 2013 Jul;121(7):859-64. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1205940. Epub 2013 May 10.

Associations between traffic-related black carbon exposure and attention in a prospective birth cohort of urban children.

Author information

  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, New York, USA.



Ambient air pollution may have neurotoxic effects in children. Data examining associations between traffic-related air pollution and attention domains remain sparse.


We examined associations between black carbon (BC), a marker of traffic particles, and attention measures ascertained at 7-14 years of age among 174 children in a birth cohort based in the Boston, Massachusetts, area.


We estimated BC levels using a validated spatial-temporal land-use regression model based on residence during children's lifetime. Children completed the Conner's Continuous Performance Test (CPT) measuring omission errors, commission errors, and hit reaction time (HRT), with higher scores indicating increased errors or slower reaction time. Multivariable-adjusted linear regression analyses were used to examine associations between BC and each attention outcome.


Children were primarily Hispanic (56%) and Caucasian (41%); 53% were boys. We found a positive association between higher BC levels with increased commission errors and slower HRT, adjusting for child IQ, age, sex, blood lead level, maternal education, pre- and postnatal tobacco smoke exposure, and community-level social stress. Notably, the association was weaker, though still positive, for the highest BC quartile relative to the middle two quartiles. Sex-stratified analysis demonstrated statistically significant associations between BC and both commission errors and HRT in boys, but BC was not significantly associated with any of the CPT outcomes in girls.


In this population of urban children, we found associations between BC exposure and higher commission errors and slower reaction time. These associations were overall more apparent in boys than girls.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk