Study: Air Pollution Affects Intelligence

Alarming news from The Guardian and South China Morning Post regarding the effects of air pollution have been published recently.

Air pollution causes ‘huge’ reduction in intelligence” according to an Aug 27th article published in The Guardian and based on research from the Yale School of Public Health.

“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 US, 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.”

Air pollution’s effects have been studied widely before with known issues related to breathing in toxic air including millions of premature deaths annually, increased mental illness in children and increased risk for dementia. The research findings indicated that the longer people were exposed to dirty air, the bigger the damage to intelligence, with language ability more harmed than mathematical ability and men more harmed than women, which may be due to differences in how male and female brains work.

“This report’s findings are extremely worrying” said Rebecca Daniels, from the UK public health charity Medact.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post (SCMP) also ran a three-part series on the hidden pollution risks affecting Hong Kong residents.

In part one, SCMP highlights how low-level (No. 1 warning) incoming storms “pose much greater hazard than strong wind or rain in the form of harmful pollutants blown in from mainland China, by as much as 17 to 46 per cent…with PM10 and PM2.5 – sulphur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) go up by an average of 26, 28, 46, and 17 per cent respectively.”

Parts two and three tackle the rising issue of ground-level ozone which have surged 20 percent, hitting a two-decade high, and steps the government is taking to provide the local population with powerful and accurate air quality forecasts through a mobile app called “PRAISE-HK”.

Sources:

The Guardian (link)

South China Morning Post (Pt. 1, Pt. 2, Pt. 3)

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