Air Pollution May Be Making Us Less Intelligent – World News – African News Network | Latest African News | Nigerian News | Breaking News
Connect with us

World News

Air Pollution May Be Making Us Less Intelligent

Published

on

Air Pollution May Be Making Us Less Intelligent

 

Barbara Maher, Lancaster University

Not only is air pollution bad for our lungs and heart, it turns out it could actually be making us less intelligent, too. A recent study found that in elderly people living in China, long-term exposure to air pollution may hinder cognitive performance (things like our ability to pay attention, to recall past knowledge and generate new information) in verbal and maths tests. As people age, the link between air pollution and their mental decline becomes stronger. The study also found men and less educated people were especially at risk, though the reason why is currently unknown.

We already have compelling evidence that air pollution – especially the tiniest, invisible particulates in pollution – damages the brain in both humans and animals. Traffic pollution is associated with dementia, delinquent behaviour in adolescents, and stunted brain development in children who attend highly polluted schools.

In animals, mice exposed to urban air pollution for four months showed reduced brain function and inflammatory responses in major brain regions. This meant the brain tissues changed in response to the harmful stimuli produced by the pollution.

We don’t yet know which aspects of the air pollution particulate “cocktail” (such as the size, number or composition of particles) contribute most to reported brain deterioration. However, there’s evidence that nanoscale pollution particles might be one cause.

These particles are around 2,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, and can be moved around the body via the bloodstream after being inhaled. They may even reach the brain directly through the olfactory nerves that give the brain information about smell. This would let the particles bypass the blood-brain barrier, which normally protects the brain from harmful things circulating in the bloodstream.

READ:  HNA In Talks With Cinda As It Extends $43 Billion Asset Sales

Postmortem brain samples from people exposed to high levels of air pollution while living in Mexico City and Manchester, UK, displayed the typical signs of Alzheimer’s disease. These included clumps of abnormal protein fragments (plaques) between nerve cells, inflammation, and an abundance of metal-rich nanoparticles (including iron, copper, nickel, platinum, and cobalt) in the brain.

Automobiles are a major cause of the world’s air pollution.
Tao55/ Shutterstock

The metal-rich nanoparticles found in these brain samples are similar to those found everywhere in urban air pollution, which form from burning oil and other fuel, and wear in engines and brakes. These toxic nanoparticles are often associated with other hazardous compounds, including polyaromatic hydrocarbons that occur naturally in fossil fuels, and can cause kidney and liver damage, and cancer.

Repeatedly inhaling nanoparticles found in air pollution may have a number of negative effects on the brain, including chronic inflammation of the brain’s nerve cells. When we inhale air pollution, it may activate the brain’s immune cells, the microglia. Breathing air pollution may constantly activate the killing response in immune cells, which can allow dangerous molecules, known as reactive oxygen species, to form more often. High levels of these molecules could cause cell damage and cell death.

READ:  Saudi Arabia Reassures Canada On Oil Supply In Row Over Jailed Activists

The presence of iron found in air pollution may speed up this process. Iron-rich (magnetite) nanoparticles are directly associated with plaques in the brain. Magnetite nanoparticles can also increase the toxicity of the abnormal proteins found at the centre of the plaques. Postmortem analysis of brains from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease patients shows that microglial activation is common in these neurodegenerative diseases.
The latest study of the link between air pollution and declining intelligence, alongside the evidence we already have for the link between air pollution and dementia, makes the case for cutting down air pollution even more compelling. A combination of changes to vehicle technology, regulation and policy could provide a practical way to reduce the health burden of air pollution globally.

However, there are some things we can do to protect ourselves. Driving less and walking or cycling more can reduce pollution. If you have to use a car, driving smoothly without fierce acceleration or braking, and avoiding travel during rush hours, can reduce emissions. Keeping windows closed and recirculating air in the car might help to reduce pollution exposure during traffic jams as well.

Reducing vehicle use by walking or cycling instead could have a major impact on air pollution levels.
Nick Starichenko/ Shutterstock

But young children are among the most vulnerable because their brains are still developing. Many schools are located close to major roads, so substantially reducing air pollution is necessary. Planting specific tree species that are good at capturing particulates along roads or around schools could help.

READ:  President Trump, First Lady To Visit Storm-ravaged Florida Panhandle

Indoor pollution can also cause health problems, so ventilation is needed while cooking. Open fires (both indoors and outdoors) are a significant source of particulate pollution, with woodburning stoves producing a large percentage of outdoor air pollution in the winter. Using dry, well-seasoned wood, and an efficient ecodesign-rated stove is essential if you don’t want to pollute the atmosphere around your home. If you live in a naturally-ventilated house next to a busy road, using living spaces at the back of the house or upstairs will reduce your pollution exposure daily.

Finally, what’s good for your heart is good for your brain. Keeping your brain active and stimulated, eating a good diet rich in antioxidants, and keeping fit and active can all build up resilience. But as we don’t yet know exactly the mechanisms by which pollution causes damage to our brains – and how, if possible, their effects might be reversed – the best way we can protect ourselves is to reduce or avoid pollution exposure as much as possible.The Conversation

Barbara Maher, Professor, Environmental science, Lancaster University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

World News

Over 4000 Migrants Are Seeking To Enter Mexico From Central America

Published

on

By

Over 4000 Migrants Are Seeking To Enter Mexico From Central America

More than four thousand migrants from central America are seeking to enter Mexico legally instead of going to the united states.  Mexico’s immigration policy has recently changed.  Migrants seeking us asylum are now required to apply first in Mexico.

READ:  Pressure Mounts To Bury Carbon Emissions, But Who Will Pay?

International institute of migration reports that four days after arriving at the Guatemalan-Mexico border, four thousand migrants from various south and central American countries, have requested permission to enter Mexico on Sunday.

READ:  Cambodian Court Jails Australian Filmmaker For Six Years For Espionage

Mexican President, Andres Manue Lopez Obrador, has promised that the human rights of migrants will be protected, and has arranged for a regular and orderly entry by giving humanitarian visas which have helped avert episodes of great tension, like the chaos that greeted a group of central American migrants who illegally entered Mexico in October.

READ:  Saudi Arabia Reassures Canada On Oil Supply In Row Over Jailed Activists

Continue Reading

World News

Putin Opens Door For Talks With Abe Over Disputed Island

Published

on

By

Putin Opens Door For Talks With Abe Over Disputed Island Chain

Russian President Vladimir Putin is ready to host Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for talks over a disputed Island chain that has prevented the two countries from concluding a peace treaty to officially end the World War II.

READ:  President Trump, First Lady To Visit Storm-ravaged Florida Panhandle

Abe’s visit marks the 25th time both leaders have met since 2013, it is a reflection of their efforts to increase cooperation despite the disagreements over the Kuril Islands.

READ:  Rescuers Comb Rubble Of Florida Beach Communities For Hurricane Survivors

The soviet army seized the four islands between the seas of Okhosk and the Pacific Ocean in the last days of World War II.

Tokyo’s refusal to recognize Moscow’s sovereignty over the islands has also made it difficult for peace to reign for more than seven decades.

READ:  HNA In Talks With Cinda As It Extends $43 Billion Asset Sales

Continue Reading

Business News

China Transportation Authorities Prepares For Spring Festival Travel Rush

Published

on

By

China Transportation Autourities Prepares For Spring Festival Travel Rush

Transport authorities across China are getting into high gear in preparation for the spring festival travel rush.  Three billion trips are expected to be made during the period.

READ:  Rescuers Comb Rubble Of Florida Beach Communities For Hurricane Survivors

During the forty-day travel rush season from January to March, the country expects to see at least three billion persons moving across the country by rail, air and road.

READ:  Saudi Arabia Reassures Canada On Oil Supply In Row Over Jailed Activists

The China railway Guangzhou group is expected to transport thirty-seven million passengers during this period with more than one thousand pairs of trains.  For more convenience, the group has also decided to optimize passenger routes by establishing free service desks, providing more emergency lanes.

READ:  Massive Societal Changes Needed To Meet Lower Global Warming Target World Needs - U.N.

Continue Reading

Trending

Subscribe to ANN News Alert

Be the first to receive the latest news from Africa and around the world.

%d bloggers like this: