Memory, IQ Scores, and Air Pollution

City smog lowers children’s IQ. This is among findings from a recent University of Montana study that found children living in cities with significant air pollution are at an increased risk for detrimental impacts to the brain, including short-term memory loss and lower IQ.

Article: Study finds air pollution affects short-term memory, IQ and brain metabolic ratios

The abstract:

Children's urban air pollution exposures result in systemic and brain inflammation and the early hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). The apolipoprotein E (APOE) ε4 allele is the most prevalent genetic risk for AD. We assessed whether APOE in healthy children modulates cognition, olfaction, and metabolic brain indices. The Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-R) and the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test were administered to 50 Mexico City Metropolitan Area children (13.4 ± 4.8 years, 28 APOE ε3 and 22 APOE ε4). N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/creatine (Cr), choline (Cho)/Cr, myo-inositol (mI)/Cr, and NAA/mI were calculated using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy in the white matter of the frontal and parietal lobes, hippocampus, and pons. APOE ε4 versus ε3 children had a reduced NAA/Cr ratio in the right frontal white matter and decrements on attention, short-term memory, and below-average scores in Verbal and Full Scale IQ (>10 points). APOE modulated the group effects between WISC-R and left frontal and parietal white matter, and hippocampus metabolites. Soap was the predominantly failed odor in urban children and, in APOE ε4 versus ε3 carriers, strongly correlated with left hippocampus mI/Cr ratio. APOE modulates responses to air pollution in the developing brain. APOE ε4 carriers could have a higher risk of developing early AD if they reside in a polluted environment. APOE, cognition, and olfaction testing and targeted magnetic resonance spectroscopy may contribute to the assessment of urban children and their results could provide new paths toward the unprecedented opportunity for early neuroprotection and AD prevention.

Decreases in Short Term Memory, IQ, and Altered Brain Metabolic Ratios in Urban Apolipoprotein ε4 Children Exposed to Air Pollution

Here’s a related article:

Exposure to PM 2.5 pollution linked to brain atrophy and memory decline

Women in their 70s and 80s who were exposed to higher levels of air pollution experienced greater declines in memory and more Alzheimer’s-like brain atrophy than their counterparts who breathed cleaner air, according to USC researchers.

The findings of the nationwide study, published today in Brain , touch on the renewed interest in preventing Alzheimer’s disease by reducing risk as well as hint at a potential disease mechanism. Alzheimer’s is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States, and there’s currently no cure or treatment.

See also: "I have no hesitation whatsoever to say that air pollution causes dementia"

Also interesting

Surbjit Kaur’s 2003 study in London found volunteers were subjected to up to 130,000 particles at a time (Credit: Emmanuel Lafont)

“I expected a certain level of variation [in particle number]”, she says, “but the level of fluctuation really surprised me… The volume of cars that went past had very little impact on people’s exposure to PM2.5. But it had a massive impact on ultrafines.” As the volunteers pounded the pavements, they were exposed to a minimum of 36,000 particles at a time, up to a maximum of 130,000. When they took the same route by bicycle (tricky, but not impossible, with all the equipment), the maximums and minimums went up by another 20,000.

However, the highest averages were recorded inside the cars and buses: the closer to the source of the pollution, the exhaust pipes spewing out the fumes, the higher the total number of nanoparticles. The difference between walking by the kerbside of the road, and by the building side, on the same pavement – just a few short steps – was an average of 82,000 particles versus 69,000. The same readings registered no change in PM2.5.

It’s interesting that air pollution might also affect gut health (search for “microbes” in the forum for related articles).


Thanks to @Josh for his unstinting research efforts.

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just a heads up that this link doesn’t work .

really sad about this and I just wish we did more and talked more about this, worldwide

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Sorry about that. It should work now.