David De Lossy
That yellow haze of smog hovering over the skyline isn’t just a stain on the view. It may also leave a mark on your mind. Researchers have known since the 1970s that high levels of air pollution can harm
both cardiovascular and respiratory health, increasing the risk of early death from heart and lung
diseases. The effect of air pollution on cognition and mental well-being, however, has been less
well understood. Now, evidence is mounting that dirty air is bad for your brain as well.
Over the past decade, researchers have found that high levels of air
pollution may damage children’s cognitive abilities, increase adults’ risk of
cognitive decline and possibly even contribute to depression.
“This should be taken seriously,” says Paul Mohai, PhD, a
professor in the University of Michigan’s School
of Natural Resources and the Environment
who has studied the link between air
pollution and academic performance
in children. “I don’t think the issue
has gotten the visibility it
JULY/AUGUST 2012 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY JULY/AUGUST 2012 • MONITOR ON PSYCHOLOGY