Recently, scientists have found that air pollution could harm not only our physical health but also mental functions.
One study from Beijing Normal University in China has shown that polluted air may impede cognitive ability as people become older, especially for less educated men.
The study carried out the math and verbal testing of 25,000 people living in 162 counties in China. The tests were given to people of both genders from teens to geriatrics.
The researchers checked the air results and reported that the higher the levels of pollution the lower the test scores as people grew older.
The impact was strongest in less educated men.
The researchers suggest that this may be because less educated men work outside more in China and are thus more exposed to polluted air.
The team also suggest that dirty air may have some impact on white matter in the brain, considering the role it plays in coordinating communications between brain regions.
The study is published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
In another study, researchers from the University of Southern California find that tiny particles that pollute the air — the kind that come mainly from power plants and automobiles — may greatly increase the chance of dementia, including dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease.
The researchers analyzed data of 3,647 65- to 79-year-old women from the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS).
These women lived across 48 states and did not have dementia when they enrolled.
The team found older women who live in places with fine particles exceeding the U.S. EPA’s standard are 81% more at risk for the global cognitive decline and 92% more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s.
Their lab experiment on mice showed when mice with Alzheimer’s gene exposed to air pollution, their brain accumulated 60% more amyloid plaque than mice with the same gene but were not exposed to pollution.
The finding is published in Nature journal Translational Psychiatry.
Air pollution harms not only adults’ brain but also children’s brain.
In one study, researchers find that air pollution (tiny particles) linked to brain alterations and cognitive impairment in children.
The study used a population-based cohort in the Netherlands, which enrolled pregnant women and followed the children from fetal life onward.
The team assessed air pollution levels at home during the fetal life of 783 children.
They found exposure to fine particles during fetal life was associated with a thinner outer layer of the brain, called the cortex, in several regions.
The researchers suggest that air pollution not only can harm the lungs, heart, and other organs, but also can influence brain development.
The finding is published in Biological Psychiatry.
While polluted air may harm people’s brain and cognitive functions, greener neighborhoods may help protect your cognitive functions.
This is the finding from a study done by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health.
The researchers performed a 10-year follow-up of 6,500 people aged 45 to 68 from the Whitehall II cohort in the U.K.
They find that the common age-related loss in cognitive function is slightly slower in people who live in greener neighborhoods.
This may be due to the fact that living in a greener place could increase physical activity and social support, reduce stress, and mitigate exposure to air pollution and noise.
The finding is published in Environmental Health Perspectives.
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