The effect of air pollution goes beyond the common health problems. According to a shocking study conducted in China, air pollution can reduce an individual's intelligence massively. It also points out that it has a negative impact on the individual's verbal and math tests performances.
The scientists found that a person's intelligence has a higher risk to degrade when exposed to contaminated air. It showed that the language skill is imperiled than the mathematical skill. Men are also more at risk than women due to the diversity of how the brain works.
The study was published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and was done to 20,000 Chinese people for a period of more than four years. The research has great significance across the globe, as 95% of the world's population are exposed to polluted air.
According to a member of the research team, Xi Chen of Yale School of Public Health in the United States, not only does air pollution decreases a person's education level by a year, but it has a prominent impact on the elderlies. The most affected are men, those who are 64 years old and above, and people with lower education.
There have been previous researches which show that the damage of air pollution in an aging brain inflicts valuable economic and health costs, as cognitive functioning is crucial for elderlies when making important decisions financially and doing everyday tasks.
Moreover, about 7 million premature deaths each year was caused by air pollution. Toxic air is also found by a study to be connected to a very alarming mortality rate in people suffering from mental conditions. It is also said to be one of the causes of the rising mental illnesses in children. While the chances of acquiring dementia is higher for those living beside bustling roads.
As mentioned, the problem with pollution is a worldwide issue. In fact, according to WHO or World Health Organization, around 4.2 million people die every year from exposure to unsafe air. What's even more worrying is that 91% of the world's population live in regions where the air's quality surpasses the guidance limitations of WHO.
According to Chen, “That is the same wherever you live. As human beings, we have more in common than is different.” He also said that in over three years, a 1mg increase in pollution is equal to losing one month's worth of education, meaning that the intelligence damage was possible to be happening gradually.
In the United Kingdom, the study is deemed to be alarming as well, as there is already a wealth of evidence showing what damage exposure to air pollution can do to one's cognitive function. The country's greatest air pollution contributor in residential zones is road traffic. According to Aaresh Saleh, part of the Doctors Against Diesel campaign and a registrar in respiratory medicine, "The government needs to act urgently to remove heavily-polluting vehicles from our roads.”
People's health is put at risk every day by the illegally polluted around the world. The challenge is huge, and the current laws and policies of different countries are not up for it. It is essential for the government of every country to make a commitment to bring the air pollution under legal limits right away.