Scientists have noticed a decrease in cognitive ability in people, even briefly exposed to fine particles in the air.
The more closely physicians study the effects of polluted air on the body and mind, the more worries it causes. A link has already been shown between pollution and infertility, as well as the development of mental disorders. The authors of a new article published in the journal Nature Aging found another negative effect - an increased decline in cognitive abilities in old age. Moreover, it manifests itself even if the local level of atmospheric pollution remains within the limits that are recognized as safe.
A team of scientists from China and the United States worked under the direction of Xu Gao from Peking University. The authors tested the cognitive abilities of about 1,000 white men, middle age 69, living in the Boston metropolitan area. These data were compared with information on their exposure to air pollution by fine PM2.5 particles (up to 2.5 micrometers in size).
It turned out that even a single inhalation of such particles was manifested by a decrease in performance in tests for as long as four weeks. Moreover, the effect was noticeable even when the concentration of PM2.5 particles remained below ten micrograms per cubic meter - the level recommended by the WHO (which, however, is regularly exceeded in many megacities of the world). However, the effect of one-time exposure to PM2.5 faded over time and persisted only with regular inhalation of the particles.
Interestingly, the effects of the pollution were somewhat weakened in people who took aspirin and steroid anti-inflammatory drugs. Scientists speculate that PM2.5 may trigger inflammation in the brain that decreases cognitive performance. Therefore, such drugs have an unexpected side effect, countering the influence of pollution on thinking.