Cognitive decline and impairment are risk factors for Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. The impact of air pollution on verbal tests, researchers found, became more pronounced as people got older.
Air pollution poses a serious problem to people all over the world.
We already knew pollution made kids score worse on tests, but this new study shows the effect getting stronger throughout life.
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The study estimated that reducing fine particulate matter concentrations to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standard of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre would increase verbal and math scores. In addition, men are more vulnerable than women. "Most likely than not the people living in the most polluted areas are the poorest, they might not fare well on the test, not because of pollution but also because of the missing opportunities", Dr Goyal, who is also the editor of the journal Annals of Indian Academy of Neurology, added.
Researchers investigating the results of air pollution performed math and verbal tests over the direction of more than one years on more than 25,000 participants in 162 Chinese counties.
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In fact, the way a vast majority of families have to live in houses without any proper ventilation in different cities, including the capital, and are regularly exposed to toxic smoke from traditional cooking stoves, there are little reasons for surprise at the high rate of deadly air pollution mentioned in the study.
The green body said increase in number of patients with ailments like lower respiratory infections, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases, cerebrovascular diseases (stroke) and ischaemic heart diseases prove that rise in pollution is impacting human health. However, the findings of the study relate not only to China but to the world.
Chen noted that high air pollution was the likely cause of the loss of intelligence, as opposed to simply being a correlation. Also, it is not clear which air pollution constituent might be to blame. Air pollution can affect the ability of older people to think clearly.
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The researchers found that the life expectancy impact of ambient PM2.5 is especially large in polluted countries such as Bangladesh (1.87 years), Egypt (1.85 years), Pakistan (1.56 years), Saudi Arabia (1.48 years), Nigeria (1.28 years), and China (1.25 years). They calculated 3.5 million people died globally from breathing PM2.5 in 1990 while 4.2 million were killed by the same type of air pollution in 2015.