Residential exposure to urban traffic is associated with the poorer neurobehavioral health of Ecuadorian schoolchildren

Khalid M. Khan, M. Margaret Weigel, Sarah Yonts, Diane Rohlman, Rodrigo Armijos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: We investigated whether chronic traffic-generated air pollution containing fine and ultrafine particulate matter is associated with reduced neurobehavioral performance and behavioral dysfunction in urban Ecuadorian schoolchildren. Also, we examined the effect of child hemoglobin and sociodemographic risk factors on these neurocognitive outcomes. Methods: A convenience sample of healthy children aged 8–14 years attending public schools were recruited in Quito, Ecuador. Child residential proximity to the nearest heavily trafficked road was used as a proxy for traffic-related pollutant exposure. These included high exposure (<100 m), medium exposure (100–199 m) and low exposure (≥ 200 m) from the nearest heavily trafficked road. The Behavioral Assessment and Research System (BARS), a computerized test battery assessing attention, memory, learning and motor function was used to evaluate child neurobehavioral performance. The Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL/6-18) was used to assess child behavioral dysfunction as reported by mothers. The data were analyzed using multiple linear regression. Results: Children with the highest residential exposure to traffic pollutants (< 100 m) had significantly longer latencies as measured by match to sample (b = 410.27; p = 0.01) and continuous performance (b = 37.90; p = 0.02) compared to those living ≥ 200 m away. A similar but non-significant association was observed for reaction time latency. Children living within 100 m of heavy traffic also demonstrated higher scores across all CBCL subscales although only the relationship with thought problems (p = 0.05) was statistically significant in the adjusted model. Conclusion: The study findings suggest that children living within 100 m of heavy traffic appear to experience subtle neurobehavioral deficits that may result from fine and ultrafine particulate matter exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-39
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Jul 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Distance from traffic
  • Fine and ultrafine particulate matters
  • Neurobehavioral outcomes
  • Traffic-generated air pollution

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology


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