Air Pollution and Age-Dependent Changes in Emotional Behavior Across Early Adolescence in the U.S.

Posted on by Stephen Gee

Recent studies have linked air pollution to increased risk for behavioral problems during development, albeit with inconsistent findings. Additional longitudinal studies are needed that consider how emotional behaviors may be affected when exposure coincides with the transition to adolescence – a vulnerable time for developing mental health difficulties. This study investigates if annual average PM2.5 and NO2 exposure at ages 9–10 years moderates age-related changes in internalizing and externalizing behaviors over a 2-year follow-up period in a large, nationwide U.S. sample of participants from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) Study®. Air pollution exposure was estimated based on the residential address of each participant using an ensemble-based modeling approach. Caregivers answered questions from the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) at the baseline, 1-year follow-up, and 2-year follow-up visits, for a total of 3 waves of data; from the CBCL we obtained scores on internalizing and externalizing problems plus 5 syndrome scales (anxious/depressed, withdrawn/depressed, rule-breaking behavior, aggressive behavior, and attention problems). Zero-inflated negative binomial models were used to examine both the main effect of age as well as the interaction of age with each pollutant on behavior while adjusting for various socioeconomic and demographic characteristics. Against our hypothesis, there was no evidence that greater air pollution exposure was related to more behavioral problems with age over time.

Comments are closed.