Over the last few decades, the number of children who have ever been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder has increased by about 2 million. As our general understanding of mental health and ADHD has grown, it means that we are likely to find that more of our children are exhibiting ADHD symptoms. But what if there is another factor influencing these numbers?
According to a recent study done by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, exposure to a certain component of air pollution can increase the possibility of having ADHD.
How the Two are Connected
The researchers at the Center chose New York City as their study location. They observed 233 nonsmoking pregnant women and their children from the mother’s pregnancy to childhood.
They noted that children whose mothers were exposed to high amounts of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) were five times more likely to exhibit ADHD symptoms by the age of 9.
These children specifically would have inattentive-type ADHD, meaning they are easily distracted, struggle with details and organization, and will often forget to complete routine tasks.
This study conducted by the Columbia Center is the first time that researchers have explored the connection between PAH and ADHD.
What are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons?
PAHs are created by various sources that are very common to our everyday lives, including traffic, boilers, and fossil fuel plantations. PAH exposure can even occur when eating grilled meat.
Naphthalene is a manufactured PAH that is frequently used in the U.S. to make various chemicals as well as mothballs.
When PAH enters our bodies, the pollutant is converted into metabolites. Then the metabolites are passed through urine and feces.
Other Health Effects From PAHs
Experts aren’t very sure how low-level exposure to PAHs affects our health, but high exposure to naphthalene in the air is an irritant to our mucous membranes.
High exposure also can cause blood and liver problems, as well as possibly being a carcinogen.
Preventing Toxic Air Inside Your Home
While you can’t control the toxins in the air outside your home, you certainly can inside your home. Thankfully, there are many different products that you can use to help purify the air inside your home. Humidifiers and air purifiers will be your best friend on your journey to healthy indoor air.
Humidifiers are crucial to balancing the humidity in your home. Ideally, you’d want your home to be in a sweet spot. If the air is too humid, you’re at risk for mildew growth. If the air is too dry, you’ll feel the dryness in your eyes, nose, and throat.
The bathroom and kitchen are two rooms where ventilation is pretty important, since these rooms tend to get the steamiest or smokiest.
Air purifiers will remove any dust and allergens from the air. They are especially beneficial for those who own pets or live with smokers. You can also prevent a build up of dust and allergens by regularly cleaning fabric surfaces like carpets, curtains, and bedspreads.
While air pollutants are not the sole cause of ADHD, it was found that high exposure to certain pollutants can lead children to be more likely to show ADHD symptoms. Managing the indoor air in your home has many other health benefits, and it’s important to note that there really is no way to prevent ADHD.
If you’ve found your or your family members are suffering from allergies more than normal, maybe it’s time to ask for help from a professional. We offer fast and easy indoor air testing that can help you determine what areas of your home should be cared for. Contact us today!