Study Reveals Air Pollution Harms Cognitive Intelligence

A new study has revealed that polluted air reduces intelligence, the Guardian and BBC report.

The study found that damage from toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.

According to the Guardian, the research was conducted in China but is relevant around the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air.

It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.

Researchers believe the results have global relevance, with more than 80% of the world's urban population breathing unsafe levels of air pollution.

However, while establishing a link between pollution and lower test scores, the study did not prove cause and effect. Carbon monoxide, ozone and larger particulates were not included in the study.

"We provide evidence that the effect of air pollution on verbal tests becomes more pronounced as people age, especially for men and the less educated," the study published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences said.

The study claims that pollution also increases the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia.

The new work, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, analyzed language and arithmetic tests conducted as part of the China Family Panel Studies on 20,000 people aged 10 and up across the nation between 2010 and 2014 with 24 standardized maths questions and 34 word-recognition questions.

The scientists compared the test results with records of nitrogen dioxide and sulphur dioxide pollution.Previous research also found that air pollution harms cognitive performance in students, but this is the first to examine people of all ages and the difference between men and women.

The study suggests that while the research findings are specific to China, it can shed light on other developing countries with severe air pollution.

By Thea Morrison                                                                                                       

Source: BBC, the Guardian

Photo:  Tbilisi

Source: Georgian Journal


29 August 2018 09:53