Air pollution 'significantly lowers your intelligence', study finds

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The participants, all over the age of 10, were monitored from 2010 to 2014, with their cognitive test scores compared against air pollution exposure through their geographical location and local air quality data.

Above all, air pollution reduces liveablity of different cities, including the capital already ranked among the world's worst liveable cities for different reasons by different worldwide agencies. The researchers published their findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and are calling for China to reform its pollution policies.

"The indirect effect of air pollution on social welfare could be much larger than previously thought", said Zhang Xiaobo, the study's lead researcher and an economist at Peking University in Beijing. New research shows there might be a correlation between significant air pollution and cognitive decline in humans.

One of its authors, Dr Xi Chen from Yale School of Public Health, said: "Exposure to air pollution affects people's cognitive skills and ability not only in the short-term, but also in the long-term". The most vulnerable group - older men. "What we found is that air pollution has a very large effect on survival - on average about a year globally", said Apte.

The study suggests that pollution also heightens the chances of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia occurring. This reverse effect too was more pronounced in less educated men over the age of 64 whose verbal test scores increased by 9.18 points over three years.

Though the research was conducted in China, the researchers suggest that the implications would be true for all developing countries, including India.

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In May, the World Health Organisation said that Delhi and Varanasi were among 14 Indian cities that figured in a global list of the 20 most polluted cities in terms of PM2.5 levels.

Higher air pollution levels are linked to lower math and verbal test scores, according to a study of more than 25,000 people living throughout China.

However, while establishing a link between pollution and lower test scores, the study did not prove cause and effect.

As those in their senior years make some of the most important financial decisions regarding retirement and pensions, Rebecca Daniels, from the United Kingdom public health charity Medact, said the results are "extremely worrying". They calculated 3.5 million people died globally from breathing PM2.5 in 1990 while 4.2 million were killed by the same type of air pollution in 2015.

It found that the longer people are exposed to pollution, the more impeded their cognitive ability is, and that language becomes more of a struggle than math.

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