Towards a climate neutral EU:
efficient allocation of EU funds

NeuroSmog: Determining the impact of air pollution on the developing brain

Organisation: Institute for Sustainable Development - Foundation Website: Added: December 19, 2023
Project start date: October 01, 2019
Project end date: December 31, 2023


The project was implemented by the Institute of Psychology and Applied Psychology of the Jagiellonian University and the Institute of Environmental Protection-National Research Institute (IOŚ-PIB) in Warsaw. The NeuroSmog project aims to establish a relation between exposure to air pollution, behavioral disorders, and changes in the brain in school-aged children. The Institute of Psychology and Applied Psychology have gathered behavioral and neuroimaging data from 714 children aged 10-13 years old. The children with ADHD diagnosis as well as case controls (one ADHD case per two population controls) were recruited. The study area comprises 18 towns in southern Poland characterized by wide-ranging levels of PM. The gathered data includes: - Data about the air pollution exposure (particular matter with an aerodynamic diameter <10 µm and nitrogen dioxide) - Data from psychological evaluation testing cognitive and social functioning of the children - Behavioral data testing attention functioning of the children - Information about socioeconomic status, pregnancy and post-natal period, general health, habits, education, home, and school environment - Functional, structural and diffusion MRI Science is providing increasing evidence that smog causes neurons to die, which has long-term effects on our brains. Research conducted as part of the "Neurosmog" project shows that the neurotoxic effect of smog is immediate. The test results showed that on days when high NO2 concentrations were recorded, children's attention and cognitive abilities deteriorated. As part of the NeuroSmog project, IOŚ-PIB created high-quality, high-resolution maps of PM10 and nitrogen dioxide NO2 concentrations. These are the first maps of this kind in Poland. IOŚ-PIB makes them available as high-resolution maps for the years 2007-2018 (maps of average annual pollutant concentrations), made for the project domain area, i.e. three voivodeships: Opole, Silesia and Lesser Poland. Maps are available free of charge for research purposes to other scientific centers, and for a fee if they are used commercially.

Financial data

Project is implemented as part of the TEAM-NET programme of the Foundation for Polish Science, co-financed from EU resources obtained from the European Regional Development Fund under the Smart Growth Operational Programme. Project value PLN 15,188,967.50 (about EUR 3,416,398.82), 100% EU funding.


Confirmation of the hypothesis about the negative impact of smog on the developing brain is an important result of the project. Solid and reliable data are an important argument in the discussion and convince those in power responsible for air quality in Poland (and in Europe) to take action. The project should continue to provide data/observations over a long period of time.

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Other info

European Climate Initiative (EUKI)
This project is part of the European Climate Initiative (EUKI). EUKI is a project financing instrument by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK). The EUKI competition for project ideas is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. It is the overarching goal of the EUKI to foster climate cooperation within the European Union (EU) in order to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.