'Exposure to air pollution leads to lower verbal, maths scores'

'Exposure to air pollution leads to lower verbal, maths scores'

'Exposure to air pollution leads to lower verbal, maths scores'

Researchers from University of Texas at Austin in the USA had said that if PM2.5 concentrations worldwide were limited to the World Health Organization's (WHO) air quality guideline concentration of 10 microgrammes per square cubic metre, the global life expectancy would be on average 0.59 year longer.

New research shows that polluted air causes a sharp drop in math and verbal test scores, and the effects become worse over time.

"The effect was more pronounced among men than women - and worst among the elderly", it added. "If we calculate [the loss] for those, it may be a few years of education".

"Long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests", Zhang said.

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The analysis, which appeared yesterday (August 27) in PNAS, correlated test scores collected in a longitudinal study with official air pollution data to see how poor air quality was related to the same subjects' performance over time.

"The fact that fine particle air pollution is a major global killer is already well known", said Joshua Apte, who led the study published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters on August 22, by the American Chemical Society. The study also showed that individuals with little education were more affected by pollution, possibly because they typically work outdoors.

Toxic air reportedly causes more than seven million premature deaths a year but the harm to people's cognitive abilities is not as well understood.

Above all, air pollution reduces liveablity of different cities, including the capital already ranked among the world's worst liveable cities for different reasons by different worldwide agencies.

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A trio of researchers from Beijing Normal University, Yale University and Peking University has found a link between air pollution and human cognitive decline. Cognitive decline or impairment are risk factors of Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia for the elderly. However, there is also a possibility of changes in the brain chemistry or composition due to exposure to air pollution that can impair cognition.

As those in their senior years make some of the most important financial decisions regarding retirement and pensions, Rebecca Daniels, from the United Kingdom public health charity Medact, said the results are "extremely worrying". It is alarming that more than 8,500 children die every year in the country from diseases caused by indoor air pollution.

As per the World Health Organization (WHO), the top 20 most polluted cities are all in developing countries, with over a 100,000 residents failing to meet WHO air quality guidelines.

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