Air Pollution is Damaging our Brains

Air Pollution is Damaging Our Brains


The brain is one of the most important, complex organs in the human body. It allows us to think, remember, and feel emotions. It is also responsible for intelligence and allows for basic functions to occur. It is what makes us human. Almost everyone is aware of the dangers of pollution to our planet and animals, but what about our brains?


Cities and towns around the world continue to become more dangerous, and everyday people are breathing in dangerous ozone. A lot of it is traffic-related air pollution. It enters through the lungs and affects many other organs as well. Research has shown that tiny air pollutants may cause changes in brain structure, and is associated with a lower IQ, decreased memory, decreased academic performance, ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorder.  A study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that chronic exposure to air pollution is also causing other detrimental effects on cognition, increasing the risk factors for diseases such as dementia and Altzimhers.


In a study in China, researchers found that the group being harmed the most was less educated men. This test looked at verbal and math test scores and it showed how air pollution had a huge affect on the intelligence of people. Those who were exposed to higher amounts of pollution, especially on a sunny summer day, received much lower scores.


Children’s brains are also suffering the impact of pollution. A study by Frederica Perera in New York studied a group of children from birth until around age six or seven. They found that children who had been exposed to higher levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (air pollutants) in the womb experienced more attention problems and symptoms of anxiety and depression during childhood. Another study conducted by Shakira Franco Suglia, ScD, an assistant professor at Boston University’s School of Public Health, found that children exposed to higher levels of black carbon scored worse on tests of memory, verbal IQ, and nonverbal IQ.


Not only should we be concerned about the effects of air pollution on our environment, we also have reasons to be concerned about its effect on the human body. Not only does it increase the chances of lung and heart disease, it can affect the way that we think. It permanently affects vascular structures in the brain, causing cognitive problems.