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Unhealthy Air Puts Kids at Risk of Autism, Study Says

The study, "Traffic Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism," presents information on how air pollution can affect the brain.

Exposure to air pollution traffic during pregnancy and the first year of life increases an infant's risk of autism, according to a study released Monday by USC and Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

The researchers behind the study, titled "Traffic Related Air Pollution, Particulate Matter, and Autism," say exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy and early life is linked to a more than two-fold risk of autism.

In addition, exposure to regional pollution consisting of nitrogen dioxide and small pollution particles is also associated with autism, even if the mother did not live near a busy road, according to research published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, a sister publication of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The USC/CHLA study found that children whose mothers lived in areas with high levels of pollution from traffic or with poor air quality during pregnancy or the first year of life may be more likely to have autism.

"This work has broad potential public health implications," said the study's principal investigator, Dr. Heather Volk, assistant professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine and an investigator at CHLA.

"We've known for a long time that air pollution is bad for our lungs, and especially for children," she said. "We're now beginning to understand how air pollution may affect the brain."

The research is the first to look at the amount of near-roadway traffic pollution to which individuals were exposed and combine that with measures of regional air quality, Volk said.

The study builds on previous research that examined how close subjects lived to a freeway, Volk said.

"We took into account how far away people lived from roads, meteorology such as which way the wind was blowing, how busy the road was, and other factors to study traffic-related pollution," she said. "We also examined data from air quality monitors, which measure pollution over a larger region that could come from traffic, industry, rail yards or many other sources."

Jim Light November 27, 2012 at 07:09 AM
Hey, let's build a new power plant that will pollute more so AES can make more money!
Fred Reardon November 27, 2012 at 08:07 AM
There is not enough of a buffer between the proposed AES toxic stacks and therefore not enough area for the toxins to disapate before entering our (and our children's) lungs. No economic or grid supplement argument can justify the risk to our communities health and safety. AES does not own the air we breathe. Be mindful and concerned about the overwhelming evidence related to the increased odds of getting autism, cancer, lung disease, asthma, heart disease, pregnancy complications, etc. when living in close proximity to a power plant toxic plume. New plant supporters are hoping that, because the toxins released from smoke stacks are invisible, people will think it's ok for AES to pollute the air we breathe. We have a legal right to oppose any new pollution that can harm our families.
Fred Reardon November 27, 2012 at 08:08 AM
Power Plant supporters argument, related to talking and working with AES is ridiculous, deceiving, and will result in tons and tons of toxins raining down on our families. What has our Mayor and city council done to help us avoid this toxic situation? They have made no attempt to sit down with state or federal officials in an attempt to avoid a new plant? Have they tried to work with AES to develop a plan that does not involve polluting our lungs for the next 50 plus years? No, on the contrary, they and other AES supporters have mislead, used stall tactics and threats to derail any attempts people in opposition to a power plant have proposed. Simply put, our local government is willing to dismiss the studies, the pollution, the rights of those that are not being represented, a sense of urgency, and the threat to our health and safety for what? There is only one conclusion to draw from Power Plant supporter's arguments, they are doing everything they can to ensure we get more nasty polluting smoke stacks stuck in our face. Please take a stand and help support a zoning change that will send a strong message to the community and those agencies charged with approving a new power plant that we do not want to expose our community to this toxic polluting threat.
Diane Naletich November 27, 2012 at 02:22 PM
Another compelling reason to simply say NO MORE POWER PLANT IN REDONDO BEACH!!
sheri patterson November 27, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Here are some compelling quotes. This is a serious issue for RB. “Natural gas power plants are really PM facilities. They take natural gas and turn it into particulate matter, really small particulate matter,” said Angela Johnson Meszaros, attorney for California Communities Against Toxics. Angela Johnson Meszaros calls the ultra-fines the worst sort of pollution. “This is not dust from a road,” she said. “These are ultra-fines that are going to embed themselves in your DNA; these are the products of incomplete combustion.” Particulate matter, called PM-10 and PM-2.5, is very small particles that result from the combustion of fossil fuels, including natural gas. PM-10 stands for particles of 10 microns or less; PM-2.5 is 2.5 microns or less. A micron is one-millionth of an inch. "A growing number of studies suggest there is no threshold below which these particulates don’t cause health problems. More worrisome, and harder to quantify, are even smaller, ultrafine particles — under 2.5 microns — that natural gas plants also produce", Michael Kleinman, Professor at UCI School of Medicine, said. James Gauderman, a professor at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, has tracked the connection between lung development and air pollution in children across Southern California for nearly 20 years. “These ultrafine particles contain a lot of chemicals that are generated during combustion, many of them are known to be mutagenic and carcinogenic,” he said.
Josh Obear November 28, 2012 at 01:17 AM
I don't think that any contests that particulate matter pollution is bad. The question at hand is, will taking down AES make any significant, or even noticeable, health impact, even if that means just saving one life. In all honesty, from the research I've done by myself, I've yet to be convinced. The article even recognizes the same issue: traffic pollution. The criteria pollutants are the same between both traffic and power plant sources... the question is, how much of a reduction would shutting down AES bring. Based on numbers from the worst case of AES production (42%) and the best case for cars, I worked it out: less than 2%. Looking at the reports that actually directly link these particulates to health issues... I don't see a 2% drop as significant. But that by itself doesn't matter; any decrease in pollution is obviously an inherently good thing. The point of this isn't that we shouldn't weigh the positive health benefits of pollution reduction, but that we need to look at the big picture, where pollution is only one piece of the puzzle. If we parametricize such a complex topic to one viewpoint, and completely disregard all the other advantages and disadvantages related, we do both ourselves and our fellow citizens an injustice. I tell anyone and everyone, go out, and do your own research. Don't let any one article or any one talking point sway you, stay informed and let's find out which option is really the best one for our city.
Jim Light November 28, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Traffic pollution has been steadily decreasing as people replace their vehicles with newer vehicles that run cleaner. According to the AQMD, Redondo has two main sources of pollution. Traffic and AES. We can reduce particulate pollution by 3.3 tons per year if we shut down the current AES plant. If we allow a new plant, particulate pollution from the plant will increase to 17 tons per year at AES' lowest predicted run rate. According to AES' own report, our current background PM2.5 exposure exceeds Federal and state threshholds. And according to AES' own report, the new plant will make it worse. The new plant takes our air quality in the wrong direction. And don't forget the new plant will have lower stacks and is moved closer to our residential neighborhoods. Additionally, Josh, you always ignore the well documented fiscal impacts of the new plant on property values, business revenues and City revenues. Why invest hundreds of millions in our harbor and then handicap it and hiding it by building a new, polluting, blighting eyesore? We don't need the power any more. It makes our air worse. It has negative fiscal impacts on neighborhoods, businesses and city revenues. It is tightly surronded by incompatible uses. Josh, this decision is a no brainer.
Jeff Cohn November 28, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Another reason why oil and gas drilling in the South Bay is an absolutely insanely stupid idea. Studies now show that some cities in Wyoming and Texas have more pollution than Los Angeles. Oil and gas drilling polluting the air more than cars? Who would have thunk? Please visit http://www.nobpinhb.com and show your support.

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