PAHs are one of the most widespread organic pollutants. In addition to their presence in fossil fuels they are also formed by incomplete combustion of carbon-containing fuels such as wood, coal, diesel, fat, tobacco, or incense.And wouldn't you know it, kids exposed to them prenatally had lower IQs at age 5 than kids not exposed to them prenatally. The study was in Poland, but the amounts of PAH in the environment were the same as in New York.
God, there are so many things that can affect a baby prenatally. It makes you want to move to the north woods while you're pregnant.
I guess the solution is to reduce urban pollution. Non-hydrocarbon-burning cars and electricity plants would be a start. In the meantime, as a culture, we have to acknowledge that, like global warming, human activities are making a substantial fraction of us dumber than we should be. As individuals, moving to a less polluted place might be a reasonable option for people with the means to do so. Other moms just gotta add air pollution to the list of things that can screw up your kid, maybe monitor the pollution on the web and wear a mask or stay indoors on bad days. The site at the link is a state of California site, but it doesn't list PAHs among its monitored pollutants.