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Swiss Med Wkly. 2012 Jan 3;141:w13322. doi: 10.4414/smw.2011.13322. eCollection 2012.

A review of epidemiological studies on neuropsychological effects of air pollution.

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Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology, Barcelona, Spain.


The aim of the present review is to provide an update of the epidemiological evidence of the effects of air pollution on neuropsychological development and impairment, as well as of the evidence on individual susceptibility to these effects. Animal studies have shown deposition of ultrafine particles containing metals in olfactory bulb and frontal cortical and subcortical areas, and overexpression of inflammatory responses, white matter lesions and vascular pathology in these areas that could be the basis for functional and structural brain effects. Several observational studies in the general population have observed cognitive deficits and behavioural impairment in children and the elderly. These effects, however, are not conclusive given the limited number of studies, their small size and their methodological constraints.

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