Initially, it was perceived that whatever level of air pollution exists, our brain or say our cognitive capacity will remain untouched and unaffected. But there are several scientific studies that proved our notion wrong; we can say that there is a huge effect of air pollution on the brain.
Air pollution is a gigantic problem. A polluted air contains a mixture of gases like sox, SO2 cox and CO2 etc. The polluted air not only impaires the functioning of the lungs, it also lays a negative impact on the function of brain too. Air pollution causes several health problems like brain atrophy and faster brain ageing. Polluted air with heavy metals can damage the brain cells by causing:
• Death of glial cells
• Neurofibrilliary tangles
• Degeneration of cerebral cortex
• Blood and brain barrier
Though the effect of air pollution on the brain is relatively tentative as compared to its impact on the lungs and breathing, but the performance of brain midst of smoke can surprise you. There are two recent studies that delved into the effects of air pollution on of the brain and relationship between pollution and performance and the performance of respiratory system.
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A few shocking studies:
• A research was conducted by the Columbia Center for Children’s Environment Health and another study, a sort of joint research between Harvard University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both the studies presented some truly eye-opening information and led to change the way we look at this problem.
The study of Columbia Center for Children’s Environment Health found that those children of 5-year old age who are exposed to comparatively higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) have IQ levels four points lower than those children who are not exposed to that PAH levels.
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• On the other hand, the Harvard/UNC-Chapel Hill found a direct relationship between increasing levels of ozone and reduced attention spans and thus compromised short-term memories as well as slower reaction times among the people aged from twenty to fifty years.
These two studies mean a lot to the mankind because direct connection exists between elevated levels of air pollution and impaired brain function. Not just the function of the brain but pollution can lead to physical changes in the brains also. Yes, it’s also proved.
• The lead author of the study and a doctoral student in neuroscience at Ohio State University, Laura Fonken claims on the basis of scientific study that suggests prolonged exposure to polluted air can have visible, negative effect on the brain that can lead to a number of health problems. Her study, published in the weekly journal Molecular Psychiatry, further exposes the effects of pollution on the brain that could have crucial and troubling implications for people who live and work in such a traumatic condition.
• According to the World Health Organisation, the fine particles, which are 2.5 micrometers and smaller, affect people more than another form of pollutant.
• Another study conducted by International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (received Nobel Peace Prize in 1985), reveals that the lead poisoning present in the air can have long-term health effects like mental and socio-emotional effects in infancy or childhood. Such lead exposure to children can result in decreased cognitive functioning, including assessments of reaction time, scanning and executive functioning in adults, that is, cognitive flexibility and abstract reasoning.
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On a broad scale what we can do to check the severity of air pollution is very important because it can surely lay an invisible effect on the brain. A lot can be done on the levels of exhaust and traffic-related pollution by making some key changes in our lives. Keeping the indoor air quality high is another key thing to consider. Some of the steps to consider to reduce the effect of air pollution on the brain to a great extent include a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, regular physical exercise and avoiding interaction with pollutant and smoke.