Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says

Study Air pollution responsible for ‘huge’ drop in intelligence

Study Air pollution responsible for ‘huge’ drop in intelligence

"The damage air pollution has on aging brains likely imposes substantial health and economic cost, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly to both running daily errands and making high-stakes economic decisions", study author Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University said.

"The effect was more pronounced among men than women - and worst among the elderly", it added. Researchers conducted the study in China and looked at the relationship between cognitive test scores and short-term and long-term exposure to dirty air.

By comparing the scores from 2014 to those of 2010, the researchers found that the higher the concentration of pollutants, the sharper the declines in the test scores.

Researchers used measurements of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and particulates smaller than 10 micrometres in diameter in areas where their cohort lived in their comparisons - ozone, carbon monoxide along with larger particulates were not included in the study.

A recent study by a research team from the Yale School of Public Health showed that exposure to air pollution impedes one's cognitive ability as a person gets older.

Air pollution is known as the "invisible killer" and the World Health Organisation says it is behind an estimated seven million premature deaths each year across the world by contributing to heart attacks and strokes.

Cognitive decline or impairment, which could be caused by air pollution according to the study, are also potential risk factors in developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. "Our study shows a persistent negative effect on cognitive health, which not been widely discussed".

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A new study found chronic exposure to air pollution can take a "huge" toll on one's intelligence.

While physical health has always been thought the most common casualty of air pollution, the study is the first to link poor air quality to cognition and an increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease, the most common form of dementia.

However experts believe that pollutants directly change our brain chemistry.

"For older persons (in our study those age 55-65 or 65+) the effects can be very hard to mitigate given the long term cumulative exposure", Mr Xi says.

The authors point to the 98% of cities with more than 100,000 people in low- and middle-income countries that fail to meet World Health Organization air quality guidelines.

The study suggests that while the research findings are specific to China, it can shed light on other developing countries with severe air pollution. This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries.

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