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Can poor air quality affect your thinking ability?

Created date

April 24th, 2012

Most people know that poor air quality can affect your lungs by making them more susceptible to infection, causing inflammation of the cells and lining of the lungs, and aggravating asthma or other chronic lung diseases. But there may be other effects we re not aware of.

Pollution and brain function

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago found that chronic exposure to certain types of air pollution may worsen cognitive decline in older adults. In this study, participants who were exposed to higher levels of particulate matter (PM) air pollution had worsening cognitive functioning over a period of four years. PM pollution is a mixture of small particles and liquid droplets, and can be made up of acids, chemicals, metals, soil, or dust. Researchers say that PM pollution may also be associated with an increased risk of heart disease, which may contribute to changes in the brain. Other factors that affect air quality are levels of ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. You can check the daily air quality index (AQI) in your area by a number of methods the Environmental Protection Agency s website (, your local media s weather reports, and also on some state and local telephone hotlines.