Beijing: A scary new study has claimed that air pollution, which hitherto was known to affect lungs and reduce life expectancy, impacts cognitive abilities as well, especially in older men.
According to the study published on Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, breathing polluted air causes a huge reduction in verbal and math tests scores, reported CNN.
For the study, researchers examined the test scores of 32,000 Chinese men and women who sat for the China Family Panel Studies survey between 2010 and 2014.
Researchers had at their disposal precise information about where and when the respondents took the tests, enabling them to compare test scores with the official air pollution index in that area
It was found that both verbal and math scores decreased with greater air pollution exposure, with the decline in verbal scores being pronounced among older, less educated men. The study also found that drops in verbal scores were more pronounced among males than females.
"The damage air pollution has on aging brains likely imposes substantial health and economic cost, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly to both running daily errands and making high-stakes economic decisions," study author Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University said.
Fourteen Indian cities are among the world's 20 most polluted, with the north Indian city of Kanpur topping the recent WHO list.