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      The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance

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          Abstract

          <p id="d7692004e230">Most of the population in developing countries live in places with unsafe air. Utilizing variations in transitory and cumulative air pollution exposures for the same individuals over time in China, we provide evidence that polluted air may impede cognitive ability as people become older, especially for less educated men. Cutting annual mean concentration of particulate matter smaller than 10 μm (PM10) in China to the Environmental Protection Agency’s standard (50 μg/m <sup>3</sup>) would move people from the median to the 63rd percentile (verbal test scores) and the 58th percentile (math test scores), respectively. The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions. </p><p class="first" id="d7692004e236">This paper examines the effect of both cumulative and transitory exposures to air pollution for the same individuals over time on cognitive performance by matching a nationally representative longitudinal survey and air quality data in China according to the exact time and geographic locations of the cognitive tests. We find that long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests. We provide evidence that the effect of air pollution on verbal tests becomes more pronounced as people age, especially for men and the less educated. The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions. </p>

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          Most cited references13

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          The global burden of disease due to outdoor air pollution.

          As part of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Burden of Disease Comparative Risk Assessment, the burden of disease attributable to urban ambient air pollution was estimated in terms of deaths and disability-adjusted life years (DALYs). Air pollution is associated with a broad spectrum of acute and chronic health effects, the nature of which may vary with the pollutant constituents. Particulate air pollution is consistently and independently related to the most serious effects, including lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality. The analyses on which this report is based estimate that ambient air pollution, in terms of fine particulate air pollution (PM(2.5)), causes about 3% of mortality from cardiopulmonary disease, about 5% of mortality from cancer of the trachea, bronchus, and lung, and about 1% of mortality from acute respiratory infections in children under 5 yr, worldwide. This amounts to about 0.8 million (1.2%) premature deaths and 6.4 million (0.5%) years of life lost (YLL). This burden occurs predominantly in developing countries; 65% in Asia alone. These estimates consider only the impact of air pollution on mortality (i.e., years of life lost) and not morbidity (i.e., years lived with disability), due to limitations in the epidemiologic database. If air pollution multiplies both incidence and mortality to the same extent (i.e., the same relative risk), then the DALYs for cardiopulmonary disease increase by 20% worldwide.
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            The Impact of Air Pollution on Infant Mortality: Evidence from Geographic Variation in Pollution Shocks Induced by a Recession

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              The outdoor air pollution and brain health workshop.

              Accumulating evidence suggests that outdoor air pollution may have a significant impact on central nervous system (CNS) health and disease. To address this issue, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences/National Institute of Health convened a panel of research scientists that was assigned the task of identifying research gaps and priority goals essential for advancing this growing field and addressing an emerging human health concern. Here, we review recent findings that have established the effects of inhaled air pollutants in the brain, explore the potential mechanisms driving these phenomena, and discuss the recommended research priorities/approaches that were identified by the panel. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                Proc Natl Acad Sci USA
                Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
                0027-8424
                1091-6490
                August 27 2018
                : 201809474
                Article
                10.1073/pnas.1809474115
                6140474
                30150383
                3c9b5e67-243e-4744-adb8-0146658898a5
                © 2018

                Free to read

                http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/userlicense.xhtml

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