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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Sep 11;115(37):9193-9197. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809474115. Epub 2018 Aug 27.

The impact of exposure to air pollution on cognitive performance.

Author information

1
School of Statistics, Beijing Normal University, Beijing 100875, China.
2
Department of Health Policy and Management, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT 06520.
3
Department of Economics, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06511.
4
National School of Development, Peking University, Beijing 100871, China; x.zhang@nsd.pku.edu.cn.
5
Division of Development Strategy and Governance, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC 20005.

Abstract

This paper examines the effect of both cumulative and transitory exposures to air pollution for the same individuals over time on cognitive performance by matching a nationally representative longitudinal survey and air quality data in China according to the exact time and geographic locations of the cognitive tests. We find that long-term exposure to air pollution impedes cognitive performance in verbal and math tests. We provide evidence that the effect of air pollution on verbal tests becomes more pronounced as people age, especially for men and the less educated. The damage on the aging brain by air pollution likely imposes substantial health and economic costs, considering that cognitive functioning is critical for the elderly for both running daily errands and making high-stake decisions.

KEYWORDS:

China; aging; air pollution; cognitive decline; gender difference

PMID:
30150383
PMCID:
PMC6140474
[Available on 2019-03-11]
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1809474115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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