Short-term effect of air pollution on attention function in adolescents (ATENC!Ó): A randomized controlled trial in high schools in Barcelona, Spain

Florence Gignac, Jose Barrera-Gómez, Cecilia Persavento, Caterina Solé, Èlia Tena, Mónica López-Vicente, Maria Foraster, Fulvio Amato, Andrés Alastuey, Xavier Querol, Humberto Llavador, Jose Apesteguia, Jordi Júlvez, Digna Couso, Jordi Sunyer, Xavier Basagaña*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Abstract

Background: The recent evidence of the short-term impact of air pollution on youth cognitive functions is based primarily on observational studies. Objectives: We conducted a randomized controlled trial to assess whether purifying the air of the classrooms produced short-term changes in attention processes of adolescents. Methods: We recruited a total of 2,123 adolescents (13–16 years old) in 33 high schools in Barcelona metropolitan area (Spain). In each school, adolescents from each class were randomly split into two equal-sized groups and assigned to two different classrooms. A set of two air cleaner devices with the same appearance (one recirculating and filtrating the air and the other only recirculating the air) was used. Each one of the devices was placed at random at one of the two classrooms. Students were masked to intervention allocation and had to complete several computerized activities for 1.5 h, including an attention test (Flanker task) to be performed at baseline and at the end of the intervention. The response speed consistency, expressed as hit reaction time standard error (HRT-SE, in ms), was measured as the primary outcome. Analyses were conducted using conditional linear regressions with classroom as strata, adjusted for variables that may differ from one class to another such as temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide concentration. Results: Average levels of PM2.5 and black carbon throughout the 1.5 h of experiment were 89% and 87%, respectively, lower in the classrooms with air cleaner than in the control classrooms. No differences were found in the median of HRT-SE between classrooms with cleaned air and normal air (percent change: 1.37%, 95% confidence interval: −2.81%, 5.56%). Sensitivity analyses with secondary attention outcomes resulted in similar findings. Conclusions: Cleaning the air of a classroom to reduce exposure to air pollutants for 1.5 h did not have an impact on the attention function of adolescents. Still, in light of previous evidence suggesting an association between air pollution and attention, further experimental studies should explore other short-term timescales of exposure and age ranges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106614
JournalEnvironment international
Volume156
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from “la Caixa” Foundation (ID 100010434) under the program RecerCaixa (2017 ACUP 00274). We acknowledge support from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019–2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and support from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program. Jordi Julvez holds the Miguel Servet-II contract (CPII19/00015) awarded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (co-funded by the European Social Fund “Investing in your future”). This study has been funded by Instituto de Salud Carlos III through the project “PI16/00261” (Co-funded by European Regional Development Fund “A way to make Europe”). We thank all the professors and students for their time and precious collaboration in this study. We would like to thank the following schools: Col.legi Kostka, Col.legi Padre Damián, Col.legi Sagrada Família-Horta, Col.legi Santíssima Trinitat, Escola Joan Pelegrí, Escola L'Horitzó, Escola Virolai, IES Leonardo da Vinci, IES Montserrat Roig, Institut Barri Besòs, Institut Celestí Bellera, Institut de Cornellà, Institut de la Roca del Vallès, Institut Doctor Puigvert, Institut Hipàtia d'Alexandria, Institut Icària. Institut Isaac Albéniz, Institut Jaume Balmes, Institut Joan Brossa, Institut Juan Manuel Zafra, Institut La Ribera, Institut Les Corts, Institut Marta Estrada, Institut Matadepera, Institut Moisès Broggi, Institut Narcís Monturiol, Institut Pau Claris, Institut Puig Castellar, Institut Sabadell, Institut Secretari Coloma, Institut Valldemossa, Institut Verdaguer, Vedruna Gràcia. Also, our thanks go to our colleagues participating in the fieldwork: Guillermo Rodriguez Gomez, Marta Ensesa Pomarola, Marta Torrens Tomey, Cristina Garcia-Narcué Moreno and Núria Pey.

Funding Information:
The research leading to these results has received funding from ?la Caixa? Foundation (ID 100010434) under the program RecerCaixa (2017 ACUP 00274). We acknowledge support from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities through the ?Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019?2023? Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and support from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program. Jordi Julvez holds the Miguel Servet-II contract (CPII19/00015) awarded by the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (co-funded by the European Social Fund ?Investing in your future?). This study has been funded by Instituto de Salud Carlos III through the project ?PI16/00261? (Co-funded by European Regional Development Fund ?A way to make Europe?). We thank all the professors and students for their time and precious collaboration in this study. We would like to thank the following schools: Col.legi Kostka, Col.legi Padre Dami?n, Col.legi Sagrada Fam?lia-Horta, Col.legi Sant?ssima Trinitat, Escola Joan Pelegr?, Escola L'Horitz?, Escola Virolai, IES Leonardo da Vinci, IES Montserrat Roig, Institut Barri Bes?s, Institut Celest? Bellera, Institut de Cornell?, Institut de la Roca del Vall?s, Institut Doctor Puigvert, Institut Hip?tia d'Alexandria, Institut Ic?ria. Institut Isaac Alb?niz, Institut Jaume Balmes, Institut Joan Brossa, Institut Juan Manuel Zafra, Institut La Ribera, Institut Les Corts, Institut Marta Estrada, Institut Matadepera, Institut Mois?s Broggi, Institut Narc?s Monturiol, Institut Pau Claris, Institut Puig Castellar, Institut Sabadell, Institut Secretari Coloma, Institut Valldemossa, Institut Verdaguer, Vedruna Gr?cia. Also, our thanks go to our colleagues participating in the fieldwork: Guillermo Rodriguez Gomez, Marta Ensesa Pomarola, Marta Torrens Tomey, Cristina Garcia-Narcu? Moreno and N?ria Pey.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s)

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