"New research shows that exposure to even relatively low concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can significantly impair cognitive functioning."
For years I've urged friends to use HEPA filters in their homes, as I do. We have one in our bedroom and three throughout the rest of the house. We also use a super efficient filter on our heating system. Now the evidence is clear. Not only does fine particulate pollution raise the risk of autism and schizophrenia in exposed newborns, it damages everybody's brains.
Air pollution is a known killer. It can lead to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, respiratory infections, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. According to recent data from the World Health Organization, 7 million premature deaths around the globe every year are linked to dirty air.
But now there is mounting evidence that certain types of air pollution can also be bad for your brain. New research shows that exposure to even relatively low concentrations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) can significantly impair cognitive functioning.
The study examined the cognitive scores of 780 participants, 55 years and older and gathered data on PM2.5 air pollution levels for each participant’s neighborhood based on measurements taken by the U.S. EPA’s Air Quality System. People living in high pollution areas, with 15 micrograms per cubic meter or more of PM2.5 had error scores on their cognitive tests of arithmetic and memory one and a half times those of the participants who lived in low pollution areas with no more than 5 micrograms per cubic meter.
PM2.5 pollution is released during any combustion process. The most common sources are vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants. The particles are just 1/30 the width of a human hair, small enough, researchers believe, to cross into the bloodstream. [emphasis mine]
Not everyone can choose to live and work in an unpolluted neighborhood, but we can use HEPA filters in our homes.