Pollution Alters the Brain

Report from the AANP:

AANP – Pollution Can Alter Brain Function In Seniors¬†¬†(Tuesday,¬†November 20, 2012) –New research has found that living in areas of high air pollution can lead to decreased cognitive ability in older adults. (In earlier studies, air pollution has been linked to increased cardiovascular and respiratory problems, and possibly premature death, in older adult populations; early evidence has suggested a possible link to brain health.) Researchers investigated data from the US Environmental Protection Agency and from the Health and Retirement Study. The analysis demonstrated that, as a result of age-related declines in health and functioning, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of exposure to unhealthy air. This study is the first to indicate exposure to air pollution influences cognitive function in a national sample of older men and women. It suggests fine air particulate matter may reduce cognitive function among seniors. These airborne particles are 2.5 micrometers in diameter, potentially small enough to deposit deep in the lung and affect the brain. Seniors living in areas with the most fine air particulates scored poorer on cognitive function tests. These tests assessed word recall, knowledge, language, and orientation. This study was recently presented in San Diego at the scientific meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. It has yet to be published.

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