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Mental Health Effects of Pollution

A large study in China suggests a link between air pollution and negative effects on people’s language and math skills. ...
In 2016, the W.H.O. reported that 92 percent of people worldwide breathe what it classified as unhealthy air. It defined that air as having concentrations of fine particulate matter, known as PM2.5, above 10 micrograms per cubic meter, or 35.3 cubic feet. ...
But few epidemiological studies have analyzed associations between air pollution and cognition in older adults, a team of researchers from France and Britain wrote in a 2014 study in the journal Epidemiology. Their study found that traffic-related pollution in greater London was associated with declining cognitive functions over time among study participants, who had an average age of 66. ...
The study found that “accumulative exposure” had a pronounced impact on verbal test scores — especially for older, less-educated men — and that cutting the local concentration of PM10 to levels that meet United States Environmental Protection Agency air quality standards would move people up from the median, or 50th percentile, to the 58th percentile on math test scores and the 63rd percentile on verbal scores.
- Mike Ives, Pollution May Dim Thinking Skills, Study in China Suggests, NYT, Aug. 29, 2018


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