Megacities air pollution problems: Mexico City Metropolitan Area critical issues on the central nervous system pediatric impact

Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas, Randy J. Kulesza, Richard L. Doty, Amedeo D'Angiulli, Ricardo Torres-Jardón

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

99 Scopus citations


The chronic health effects associated with sustained exposures to high concentrations of air pollutants are an important issue for millions of megacity residents and millions more living in smaller urban and rural areas. Particulate matter (PM) and ozone (O3) concentrations close or above their respective air quality standards during the last 20 years affect 24 million people living in the Mexico City Metropolitan Area (MCMA). Herein we discuss PM and O3 trends in MCMA and their possible association with the observed central nervous system (CNS) effects in clinically healthy children. We argue that prenatal and postnatal sustained exposures to a natural environmental exposure chamber contribute to detrimental neural responses. The emerging picture for MCMA children shows systemic inflammation, immunodysregulation at both systemic and brain levels, oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, small blood vessel pathology, and an intrathecal inflammatory process, along with the early neuropathological hallmarks for Alzheimer and Parkinson's diseases. Exposed brains are briskly responding to their harmful environment and setting the bases for structural and volumetric changes, cognitive, olfactory, auditory and vestibular deficits and long term neurodegenerative consequences. We need to improve our understanding of the PM pediatric short and long term CNS impact through multidisciplinary research. Public health benefit can be achieved by integrating interventions that reduce fine PM levels and pediatric exposures and establishing preventative screening programs targeting pediatric populations that are most at risk. We fully expect that the health of 24 million residents is important and blocking pediatric air pollution research and hiding critical information that ought to be available to our population, health, education and social workers is not in the best interest of our children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-169
Number of pages13
JournalEnvironmental Research
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015


  • Air pollution
  • Alzheimer
  • Auditory deficits
  • Brain MRI
  • Brain damage
  • Children
  • Immunodysregulation
  • Mexico City
  • PM
  • Parkinson


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