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Front Hum Neurosci. 2014 Aug 12;8:613. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00613. eCollection 2014.

Air pollution and detrimental effects on children's brain. The need for a multidisciplinary approach to the issue complexity and challenges.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences, The Center for Structural and Functional Neurosciences, University of Montana Missoula, MT, USA.
Centro de Ciencias de la Atmósfera, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico Mexico City, Mexico.
Auditory Research Center, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine Erie, PA, USA.
Neuroscience, NICER Lab (Neuroscience of Imagery Cognition and Emotion Research Lab), Carleton University Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Millions of children in polluted cities are showing brain detrimental effects. Urban children exhibit brain structural and volumetric abnormalities, systemic inflammation, olfactory, auditory, vestibular and cognitive deficits v low-pollution controls. Neuroinflammation and blood-brain-barrier (BBB) breakdown target the olfactory bulb, prefrontal cortex and brainstem, but are diffusely present throughout the brain. Urban adolescent Apolipoprotein E4 carriers significantly accelerate Alzheimer pathology. Neurocognitive effects of air pollution are substantial, apparent across all populations, and potentially clinically relevant as early evidence of evolving neurodegenerative changes. The diffuse nature of the neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration forces to employ a weight of evidence approach incorporating current clinical, cognitive, neurophysiological, radiological and epidemiological research. Pediatric air pollution research requires extensive multidisciplinary collaborations to accomplish a critical goal: to protect exposed children through multidimensional interventions having both broad impact and reach. Protecting children and teens from neural effects of air pollution should be of pressing importance for public health.


Alzheimer; Parkinson; air pollution; brain volumetric changes; cognition; cytokines; urban children; white matter hyperintensities

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