A new study indicates that air pollution not only harms the heart and lungs but it affects the brain as well, and that too, to such an extent that the elderly could struggle for words or to complete simple maths. According to the joint study by Yale and Peking Universities and published in the reputed Proceedings of National Academy of Science (PNAS) journal, long-term exposure to air pollution severely affects cognition skills.
“The study found significant reduction in verbal and maths skills of people exposed to air pollution over a long duration,” said a research sent by the Washington-based International Food Policy Research Institute that conducted the study along with Yale and Peking universities. “The effect was more pronounced among men than women — and worst among the elderly,” it added.
Between 2010 and 2014, nearly 32,000 Chinese were surveyed and their short – term and long - term exposure to air pollution was calculated. One of the main authors, Xiaobo Zhang said that the decline was steeper for verbal scores than maths scores. “The trajectory of development for both China and India are similar and hence are the levels and sources of pollution. So, even if the magnitude of impact might vary for the countries, there could be a similar impact on health,” said Sunil Dahiya, senior Greenpeace India campaigner.