Self-Motivation
David Goggins
Former Navy Seal
Career Development
Bryan Cranston
Actor
Critical Thinking
Liv Boeree
International Poker Champion
Emotional Intelligence
Amaryllis Fox
Former CIA Clandestine Operative
Management
Chris Hadfield
Retired Canadian Astronaut & Author
Learn
from the world's big
thinkers
Start Learning

Air pollution reduces intelligence in humans

The impact is significant.

A Chinese woman wears a mask to protect against pollution as they wait to cross the street in heavy smog on December 8, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)
A Chinese woman wears a mask to protect against pollution as they wait to cross the street in heavy smog on December 8, 2015 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

New research strongly indicates that air pollution is making us dumber. The research was conducted on 20,000 people in China, but the findings are relevant to the entire world, since 95% of the global population breathes unsafe air.


Both language and arithmetic skills are affected, and high pollution levels led to pretty big drops in test scores for the individuals tested. How big? The average impact on those tested is equivalent to losing one year of education.

It gets worse, though.

“Polluted air can cause everyone to reduce their level of education by one year, which is huge," said Xi Chen at Yale School of Public Health in the U.S., a member of the research team. “But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education. If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education."

Image from published study in PNAS.

"The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions," the study authors concluded.

Previous research has shown that 7 million premature deaths are caused by pollution, but the results found here about intelligence are new. In addition, the study found that the longer people are exposed to dirty air, the larger the damage. Language is the most dramatically affected, and men more than women.

So what, exactly, are the mechanisms in play? Derrick Ho, from the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said, “It is because high air pollution can potentially be associated with oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration of humans."

To accommodate for genetic differences and other possible reasons, the same people were studied over a period of years.

Take your career to the next level by raising your EQ

Emotional intelligence is a skill sought by many employers. Here's how to raise yours.

Gear
  • Daniel Goleman's 1995 book Emotional Intelligence catapulted the term into widespread use in the business world.
  • One study found that EQ (emotional intelligence) is the top predictor of performance and accounts for 58% of success across all job types.
  • EQ has been found to increase annual pay by around $29,000 and be present in 90% of top performers.
Keep reading Show less

Google’s Sycamore beats top supercomputer to achieve ‘quantum supremacy’

The achievement is an important milestone in quantum computing, Google's scientists said.

Google
Technology & Innovation
  • Sycamore is a quantum computer that Google has spent years developing.
  • Like traditional computers, quantum computers produce binary code, but they do so while utilizing unique phenomena of quantum mechanics.
  • It will likely be years before quantum computing has applications in everyday technology, but the recent achievement is an important proof of concept.
Keep reading Show less

Face mask study reveals worst material for blocking COVID-19

A study published Friday tested how well 14 commonly available face masks blocked the emission of respiratory droplets as people were speaking.

Fischer et al.
Coronavirus
  • The study tested the efficacy of popular types of face masks, including N95 respirators, bandanas, cotton-polypropylene masks, gaiters, and others.
  • The results showed that N95 respirators were most effective, while wearing a neck fleece (aka gaiter) actually produced more respiratory droplets than wearing no mask at all.
  • Certain types of homemade masks seem to be effective at blocking the spread of COVID-19.
Keep reading Show less

You want to stop child abuse? Here's how you can actually help.

Sharing QAnon disinformation is harming the children devotees purport to help.

Photo: Atjanan Charoensiri / Shutterstock
Politics & Current Affairs
  • The conspiracy theory, QAnon, is doing more harm than good in the battle to end child trafficking.
  • Foster youth expert, Regan Williams, says there are 25-29k missing children every year, not 800k, as marketed by QAnon.
  • Real ways to help abused children include donating to nonprofits, taking educational workshops, and becoming a foster parent.
Keep reading Show less
Strange Maps

Here’s a map of Mars with as much water as Earth

A 71% wet Mars would have two major land masses and one giant 'Medimartian Sea.'

Scroll down to load more…
Quantcast