Air pollution reduces intelligence in humans
The impact is significant.
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."
"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.
Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!
As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.
Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.
- UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
- Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
- These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.
- The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
- The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
- Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.
- Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
- Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
- The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.