PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Air pollution may do more than hurt your lungs. According to a new study, it may also negatively impact your brain.
This got everybody’s attention because Philadelphia has bad air pollution. This new study comes from China, which has some of the worst air in the world, so perspective is important.
You can see how bad the pollution is in China where people frequently wear masks to guard against the bad air.
The new research published in the National Academy of Sciences mapped cognitive test scores of nearly 32,000 people in China between 2010 and 2014, against their exposure to short and long term air pollution.
Results showed breathing polluted air results in a steep reduction in verbal and math tests scores.
Researchers say older men with less education seemed to be especially susceptible to a drop in cognitive abilities.
One of the reasons is because those subjects often work outdoor manual jobs.
It’s not clear precisely how pollution impacts cognitive decline, but the researchers say it may have a negative effect on the brain’s white matter.
A report from the Environmental Protection Agency in May said Philadelphia’s air quality violates new federal air quality standards.
The lung association lists Philadelphia among the top 25 cities with the worst ozone, with Los Angeles leading the way.
But, experts say the air in the Philadelphia region is nowhere near as bad as China, so the link to cognitive issues isn’t relevant here.