ADHD and other pollution-related diseases

A likely El Niño weather event is expected to worsen air pollution in Sydney as numerous studies provide further evidence that fine air particles are linked to higher incidences of lung cancer, dementia, depression and ADHD.

The latest research includes an analysis of data from 164,000 Chinese school children which found that for every 10 micrograms of PM2.5 (particles smaller than 2.5 microns) per cubic meter they were exposed to, the likelihood of children being diagnosed with ADHD was 1 was .65 times higher.

Sydney air pollution spikes during bushfires, but even normal levels can be dangerous, experts warn.

Sydney air pollution spikes during bushfires, but even normal levels can be dangerous, experts warn.Credit: Kate Geraghty

The average PM2.5 level in one of the cities, Kashgar, was nearly 115 micrograms per cubic metre, well above Sydney’s average annual air standard of 8 micrograms. However, there are no safe levels for air pollution, warned study co-author Professor Yuming Guo.

“We hope this informs policymakers and the general public to take action to reduce the impact of air pollution,” said Guo, a global authority on air pollution and health at Monash University. “This is the largest study [about ADHD and air pollution] and the evidence is very strong.”

Other recent studies found that higher levels of air pollution are associated with a higher risk of depression, cardiac arrhythmia, dementia and lung cancer in people over the age of 64. The tiny PM2.5 particles, which are only a fraction of the width of a human hair, are believed to be harmful to health as they travel deep into the lungs and bloodstream.

Air quality is better in warmer and cooler years, while particulate matter concentrations are likely to rise as an El Niño forms and brings drought and bushfires to New South Wales, the book’s authors write the atmosphere Paper A clean air plan for Sydney.

People who live near roads — especially at intersections where vehicles stop and start — and in urban corridors lined with tall buildings that trap pollutants are more exposed to pollutants. These are given by Dr. Hugh Forehead at the University of Wollongong referred to as “street canyons”.

A few years ago, Forehead, an expert in air quality data, and other university researchers fitted a stroller with a pollution monitor and sent students along Anzac Parade in Randwick.

Justin Scaccy

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