Preschoolers exposed to pollutants from gas-powered appliances are more likely to exhibit attention and cognitive disorders, according to a new study from Spain.
The study, published in the American Journal of Epidemiology, found that early childhood exposure to indoor air pollution, specifically NO2 (nitrogen dioxide), led to lower scores on cognitive tests and was found to affect the child’s ability to pay attention.
The researchers reported that children who lived in houses with a gas stove (and other gas-fired appliances) scored, on average, 5 points lower at 4 years on tests measuring memory, verbal abilities and motor skills than children with no gas appliances in their houses. Mostly affected were verbal and executive function (the coordination of complex behaviors such as memory and attention).
“Current data provide preliminary evidence that early-life exposure to indoor air pollution from gas appliances may be related to impaired cognitive functioning among preschoolers and may increase their risk of developing ADHD symptoms.”
Gas appliances release NO2, which has been found to damage cells, although other unmeasured culprits, such as particulates, may also cause the effects, said the authors. The gas supplied in the part of Spain covered in the study contains more toxic pollutants than the natural gas used in the U.S. and other parts of the world.
The study of 398 children is the first to look at the effects of indoor air pollution on cognitive and attention disorders in young children.