Air pollution causes 'huge' reduction in intelligence, study reveals

Kenny Tucker
August 31, 2018

Meanwhile, another study, earlier this month, revealed that even low levels of air pollution could increase the risk of heart disease. "The effect of this air pollution becomes more pronounced as people age", said lead author Xin Zhang, of Beijing Normal University. "Therefore, a narrow focus on the negative effect on health may underestimate the total cost of air pollution", says Zhang.

"Our sample enables us to examine the impact of air pollution as people age".

Dr Xi Chen, from the Yale School of Public Health in the USA, said this can have serious consequences for the elderly, as this is usually when the most critical financial decisions of their lifetime are made.

The research, published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, said long-term exposure to air pollution affected people's performance in verbal and math tests. In addition, the study found that the longer people are exposed to dirty air, the larger the damage.

The benefit of reaching the stringent target would be especially large in countries with the highest current levels of pollution, with approximately 0.8-1.4 years of additional survival in countries such as India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China, according to the report. New research shows there might be a correlation between significant air pollution and cognitive decline in humans.

However, while establishing a link between pollution and lower test scores, the study did not prove cause and effect. These included steps such as implementing control and mitigation measures related to vehicular emissions, re-suspension of road dust and other fugitive emissions, bio-mass, municipal solid waste burning, industrial pollution, and construction and demolition activities.

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"High air pollution can potentially be associated with oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration of humans", said Derrick Ho of Hong Kong Polytechnic Institute.

The reasons for the impairment are ambiguous but according to the study, the decreasing performance of those observed could be due to behavioural changes caused by air pollution.

The researchers tested the same subjects in 2010 and 2014, and the math and verbal tests were meant to show "different dimensions, representative of the functioning of the brain", Chen said.

When most people think of air pollution, they think of a bustling city with a blanket of smog over it from neighboring factories, but what many do not realize is that much of the pollution in our air comes from factory farms.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the top 20 most polluted cities are all in developing countries, with over a 100,000 residents failing to meet WHO air quality guidelines.

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