Air pollution causes a “huge” reduction in intelligence, according to new research, indicating that the damage to society of toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.
The research was conducted in China but is relevant across the world, with 95% of the global population breathing unsafe air.
It found that high pollution levels led to significant drops in test scores in language and arithmetic, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education.
“But we know the effect is worse for the elderly, especially those over 64, and for men, and for those with low education.
Air pollution causes seven million premature deaths a year but the harm to people’s mental abilities is less well known.
“It is because high air pollution can potentially be associated with oxidative stress, neuroinflammation, and neurodegeneration of humans,” he said.
Current policies are not up to the scale of the challenge: government must commit to bringing air pollution below legal limits as soon as possible. »