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Environ Res. 2018 Dec 12;172:55-72. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.12.016. [Epub ahead of print]

Towards a fuller assessment of benefits to children's health of reducing air pollution and mitigating climate change due to fossil fuel combustion.

Author information

1
Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: fpp1@cumc.columbia.edu.
2
Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 722 W. 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, USA. Electronic address: ai2337@cumc.columbia.edu.
3
Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA. Electronic address: pkinney@bu.edu.
4
Abt Associates, Boulder, CO, USA. Electronic address: Dave_Mills@abtassoc.com.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Fossil fuel combustion by-products, including particulate matter (PM2.5), polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and carbon dioxide (CO2), are a significant threat to children's health and equality. Various policies to reduce emissions have been implemented to reduce air pollution and mitigate climate change, with sizeable estimated health and economic benefits. However, only a few adverse outcomes in children have been considered, resulting in an undercounting of the benefits to this vulnerable population.

OBJECTIVES:

Our goal was to expand the suite of child health outcomes addressed by programs to assess health and economic benefits, such as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Benefits Mapping and Analysis Program (BenMAP), by identifying concentration-response (C-R) functions for six outcomes related to PM2.5, NO2, PAH, and/or PM10: preterm birth (PTB), low birthweight (LBW), autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, IQ reduction, and the development of childhood asthma.

METHODS:

We conducted a systematic review of the literature published between January 1, 2000 and April 30, 2018 to identify relevant peer-reviewed case-control and cohort studies and meta-analyses. In some cases meta-analyses were available that provided reliable C-R functions and we assessed their consistency with subsequent studies. Otherwise, we reviewed all eligible studies published between our search dates.

RESULTS:

For each pollutant and health outcome, we present the characteristics of each selected study. We distinguish between C-R functions for endpoints having a causal or likely relationship (PTB, LBW, autism, asthma development) with the pollutants for incorporation into primary analyses and endpoints having a suggestive causal relationship with the pollutants (IQ reduction, ADHD) for secondary analyses.

CONCLUSION:

We have identified C-R functions for a number of adverse health outcomes in children associated with air pollutants largely from fossil fuel combustion. Their incorporation into expanded assessments of health benefits of clean air and climate mitigation policies will provide an important incentive for preventive action.

KEYWORDS:

Air pollution; Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD); Autism; Carbon dioxide (CO(2)); Childhood asthma; Children's health; Fossil fuel combustion; IQ reduction; Low birthweight (LBW); Nitrogen dioxide (NO(2)); Particulate matter (PM2.5); Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH); Preterm birth (PTB)

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