According to a recent study, even short-term exposure to air pollution negatively influences our brain performance and capacity to work.
The study is based on data from Lumosity brain training games to investigate the impact of air pollution on cognitive performance of adults under 50 years old living in the United States. The training games tested 7 cognitive functions: memory, verbal ability, attention, flexibility, maths ability, speed and problem-solving.
The researchers found that exposure to moderately high levels of fine particulate matter (2.5 microns or less in size) caused a player to drop by almost 6 points in a 100-point scale. It means that, even if you are young and are exposed to this level of pollution, your cognitive function declines by the same amount as aging by 15 years! This is because PM2.5 can penetrate the lungs, enter the bloodstream and cause serious health problems, including brain performance and work productivity.
It is worth mentioning, that from the tested cognitive functions, the largest effect of PM 2.5 was on memory.
The results of this study highlight the urgency of adjusting policy measures (such as reducing vehicle emissions or revising air quality standards) to fight the effects of air pollution on the brain health. As for individual measures, you can also protect yourself by using air filtration or moving to a less-polluted living area.
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