Posted on Nov 29, 2018, 8 p.m.
Effects of pollution can go beyond physical health and even affect intelligence according to research conducted in China that was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
China has air pollution at levels three times higher than guidelines set by the World Health Organization. Air pollution is a worldwide concern, there is no question these findings will be relevant across other countries as well.
Scientists found that high levels of air pollution causes significant drops in test scores in reading and arithmetic in effects that look like losing one year of education, and are worse on certain people. In those that are over the age of 64 the effect is much worse, men and people with low education are also at risk of suffering greater losses equivalent to several years of lost education. The longer people were exposed to dirty air, the greater the damage was in intelligence.
This effect may be linked to oxidative stress and neuroinflammation which are known causes of brain related problems; oxidative stress is linked to increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, and neuroinflammation is linked to increased likelihood of depression.
Negative effects of air pollution on the brain may not be as evident as the effects on the body and risk of developing diseases. Exposure to high levels damages cells in the respiratory system putting the lungs and heart through heavy stress, forcing them to work harder to function and supply the body with nutrients needed to stay healthy. Those with existing cardiovascular and respiratory illness exposed to air pollution can experience an aggravated condition. Long term exposure is more serious, it can speed up aging of the respiratory system, and those regularly exposed are at greater risk of succumbing to premature death.
While air pollution will affect everyone certain people can be more susceptible including those with existing conditions; age is also an important factor, particularly the elderly, those under the age of 14, and pregnant women. Those who work outdoors for a living or other activities that require spending more time outside including athletes are all at greater risk. Even those who are physically fit are not spared from the negative effects of air pollution mentally or physically.
Material provided by:
Note: Content may be edited for style and length.