New Study Finds Air Toxins Reduce IQ in Harlem Kids

For Immediate Release
May 27, 2015
WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 212-961-1000 ext. 320,

NEW YORK, NY – In a groundbreaking report by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health (CCEH), researchers discovered that “Children born to mothers experiencing economic hardships, and were exposed to high levels of PAH (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), scored significantly lower on IQ tests compared with children born to mothers with greater economic security and less exposure to the pollutants.”

The researchers came to this conclusion based on a study of over 200 minority children from Harlem, Washington Heights, and the South Bronx. The study began when mothers became pregnant and lasted until the child took the IQ test at 7 years old.

WE ACT Executive Director, Peggy Shepard was not at all surprised with the findings, having worked on the issue of air quality and toxins for over 20 years, stating:

“While some New Yorkers, may find this report shocking, it tells us what we in Upper Manhattan and the Bronx have known for quite some time. It is widely known that the toxins listed in this study negatively affect child development. But what should stand out is the fact that low and medium income families are almost always more likely to be exposed to these dangerous toxins. Now that we have this information, it is up to our legislators to make sure we implement and enforce smart policies that can help to honestly address this issue.”

WE ACT has been a leader in addressing issues pertaining to air quality and indoor air pollution. In November, 2014, WE ACT worked to spread awareness on the issue of air quality through their Healthy Homes Summit. A conference addressing prominent issues in air quality. Recently, WE ACT worked with the (MTA) New York City Transit Authority to re-open Harlem’s, Mother Clara Hale Bus Depot. The new depot was redesigned with an emphasis on tools to decrease their carbon footprint, including: LEED certification, a green roof, a solar wall , and rain water collection for water treatment to wash the busses.

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