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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2015 Mar;70(2):322-8. doi: 10.1093/geronb/gbu064. Epub 2014 Jun 6.

Fine particulate matter air pollution and cognitive function among U.S. older adults.

Author information

1
Andrus Gerontology Center, School of Gerontology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles. ailshire@usc.edu.
2
Survey Research Center, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

There is growing interest in understanding how exposures in the residential environment relate to cognitive function in older adults. The goal of this study is to determine if neighborhood-level exposure to fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) is associated with cognitive function in a diverse, national sample of older U.S. adults.

METHODS:

We use cross-sectional data on non-Hispanic black and white men and women aged 55 and older from the 2001/2002 Americans' Changing Lives Study (N = 780). EPA air monitoring data were linked to respondents using census tract identifiers. Cognitive function was assessed with tests of working memory and orientation. Negative binomial regression models were used to examine the association between PM2.5 and the number of errors on the cognitive assessment.

RESULTS:

Older adults living in areas with high concentrations of PM2.5 had an error rate 1.5 times greater than those exposed to lower concentrations, net of individual and neighborhood-level demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

DISCUSSION:

This study adds to a growing body of research demonstrating the importance of air pollution to cognitive function in older adults. Improvements to air quality may be an important mechanism for reducing age-related cognitive decline.

KEYWORDS:

Cognition; Neighborhoods; Pollution.

PMID:
24906394
PMCID:
PMC4351385
DOI:
10.1093/geronb/gbu064
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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