Questions for ‘Dirty air can harm the brain and stress the body’


Being able to focus and pay attention in school is important for learning. Researchers in Spain found that air pollution can hurt kids’ attention.


To accompany feature “Dirty air can harm the brain and stress the body”


Before Reading:

1.  What causes of air pollution can you name or describe?   

2.  What negative effects can air pollution have on the body?

During Reading

1.  What caused the Great Smog of London, and what effects did it have on people’s health?   

2.   What is “particulate” pollution and where does it come from?  

3.   What are two routes by which inhaled particulates might enter the brain? 

4.   Why can inflammation caused by breathing in particulates be dangerous?  

5.   What connection has Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas found between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease? 

6.   According to research by Jordi Sunyer, how are day-to-day changes in air pollution related to kids’ performance at school?

7.   What are two possible ways to reduce air pollution levels near schools, according to Sunyer?  

8.   What are hormones and what do they do in the body?  

9.   How did exposure to air pollution affect Chinese students’ levels of stress hormones? 

10.  According to Robert Brook, what is the main reason for concern about short-term exposures to air pollution — ones that create no apparent symptoms?

After Reading

1.  You may not be able to control your exposures to air pollution. If that’s the case, what might you do to try to protect your health against the effects of such pollutants?

2.  Imagine that a “Great Smog” descended on your city or town, so thick that even car headlights couldn’t pierce it. In addition to problems with breathing, what problems would such an event pose? Hint: Consider all types of “costs.” Who would be most vulnerable?