Time to act: Air pollution is damaging our brains as well as our lungs

Air pollution has countless victims—nearly nine out of ten people across the globe breathe polluted air, according to the World Health Organization—and new research from London suggests it even reaches the unborn, moving from a mothers’ lungs to placenta and fetus.

While the toll breathing polluted air exacts on health and physical well-being is well documented and well-known, lesser known is its impact on human intelligence.

In the first study of its kind, we found continued exposure to air pollution lowers human intelligence, with the effects becoming more pronounced with age. The research was conducted with colleagues Xin Zhang of Beijing Normal University, and Xi Chen of Yale School of Public Health.

Photo credit: Mark Danielson