Original Articles By Dr. Lavin Featuring Expert Advice & Information about Pediatric Health Issues that you Care the Most About

A Major Paper on a Major Source of Damage to Our Children’s Developing Brain: Air Pollution

By Dr. Arthur Lavin

Readers of Real Answers with Dr. Lavin, will notice a series of posts being written from work generated at Project TENDR.

For those who have not read this series of articles, Project TENDR is a major consortium of the nation’s leading experts on how chemicals can cause permanent damage to the function of our children’s developing minds.  Project TENDR stands for Project for Targeting NeuroDevelopmental Risks.   Over 50 of the most highly regarded scientists who have devoted their careers to understanding the chemistry of neurodevelopmental harm and the epidemiology of how it actually happens have been working together for just the past few years to make the case:

We are causing real harm to our children’s minds, we need to stop, and knowing exactly which chemicals are hurting us is the start to taking action to reduce our children’s exposures, and really reduce the chance our children will have permanent harm from these chemicals, including autism spectrum disorder, ADHD and learning disabilities.

In past posts we alerted you to the list of chemicals Project TENDR has determined the evidence establishes harm done, namely: lead, organophosphate pesticides, mercury, air pollution, flame retardants.

Since then, TENDR has published serious papers outlining the facts of the danger for three of these chemicals with specific policy recommendations that would lead to less poisoning and better outcomes.

The most recent paper, just published, is on air pollution.  Here is the link, it’s in the Journal of the American Public Health Association, one of the top medical journals in the world:

What Does Air Pollution Do to the Developing Mind?

In this paper, the science presented establishes that plain old air pollution is a poison to the human brain.  Exposures to more air pollution lead to more damage to the developing mind with clear associations with more autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and learning disabilities.

We tend to think of air pollution as a hazard to our lungs, and it is, causing death from lung and heart disease.

But now we will always know that air pollution poisons the brain.

What to Do

This is not a problem a doctor or family can do anything about, but it is something a nation can control.  When a nation makes laws to reduce air pollution, it goes down.  When those laws are ignored or repealed, it goes up. Not really all that complicated.

But the national will, in the US, to reduce air pollution, is complicated.  It costs money for companies to reduce the air pollution they create, and so they like to spend a bit less than that money to make sure the government lets them pollute our air.   We counter, as families, doctors, and citizens.  When we prevail, the air is cleaner, when they prevail, the air is more poisonous.

We used to think clean air was a nice thing, tend to think it was a liberal idea.  But now we know that air pollution can cause our children to have autism, or learning disorders, and that it can cause this damage in the children of both Republicans and Democrats, in liberals, conservatives, even libertarians.

The danger has nothing to do with politics, only the will to protect our children is political.


  1. Project TENDR is a major national consortium of the nation’s leading experts on how chemicals can permanently damage the minds of our children.
  2. They are publishing a series of policy papers on the top examples of chemicals known to cause brain damage in developing infants and children.
  3. Just now the policy paper on air pollution has been published.
  4. From this time onward, we must all know that air pollution plays a role in the development of autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, and learning disorders in our children, we are all at risk.

We at Advanced Pediatrics hope that we can move clear air away from being a political issue, and become more of what it really is, a problem that can damage our children’s brains for their lives, and a problem that can be avoided.

To your health,
Dr. Arthur Lavin


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