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Air pollution harms memory and thinking, not just lungs


Key points from article :

Temporary rises in air pollution may impair memory and thinking in older men.

Men’s cognitive performance fell following rises in air pollution, even when peak levels remained below safety thresholds.

Exposure to fine particulate matter is harmful not only to the heart and lungs, but also to the brain.

Compiled cognitive test scores from 1,000 men and checked them against local levels of PM2.5s.

Higher levels of PM2.5s up to four weeks before testing linked to poorer cognitive performance.

Effect was clear even when concentrations of PM2.5s stayed below 10 micrograms per cubic metre.

Test scores were less affected if the men were taking aspirin or other NSAIDs.

Painkillers may help by reducing inflammation that is triggered by fine particles.

"Relatively low levels of air pollution can negatively impact cognitive function,” - Joanne Ryan, Associate professor at Monash University.

Study by Columbia University and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health published in Nature Aging.

Even short spikes in air pollutants may impair brain health in older men

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Columbia University

Private Ivy League research university in New York City

Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Education of new generations of global health leaders.

Joanne Ryan

Associate professor, Head of the Biological Neuropsychiatry and Dementia research unit at Monash University

Nature Aging

Journal spanning the entire spectrum of research into aging