Anyone who has taken the subway at 3 PM on a weekday knows that kids in NYC are hyperactive maniacs who can’t stop bouncing off the walls and screaming. A new study by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health may provide some insight on exactly why that is. After studying 233 pregnant women and their offspring from birth to childhood, researchers found that being raised in New York can increase the number and degree of ADHD symptoms by up to five times.
Scientists believe the relationship between the attention disorder and the city environment is due to the level of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in the air, caused by pollution from cars, boilers, and electrical plants. This recent study is just the latest to find a link between PAH levels in the air and ADHD behaviors that can be demonstrably problematic throughout life. Studies show that attention disorders cause developmental delays by age 3, reduced IQ by age 5, and symptoms of anxiety/depression and attention problems by ages 6 and 7.
Getting officials to pay attention to environmental hazards is usually a lot easier if a dollar figure is attached, and in the case of attention deficit disorder, it has a significant impact on our fiscal deficit — specifically, costing society between $36 and $52 billion every year in the United States. An affected individual’s costs are estimated to be $12,005 to $17,458. Those costs are calculated through a number of factors including a greater chance of partaking in risk-taking behaviors, poor academic performance, and lower annual earnings.
When one considers those costs, the prospect of investment in cleaner technology starts to seem like a bargain.