We all know that air pollution increases the risk of respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular disease. Now there is a growing body of research that has shown that indoor and outdoor air pollution decreases cognitive function. While it is well known that air pollutants such as PM2.5 (fine inhalable particulate matter, with diameters of 2.5 micrometers or smaller) can penetrate indoor environments. Only a few studies have focused on how indoor exposures to PM2.5 and outdoor air ventilation rates affect cognition.
It is important to understand that about half of “later in life” cognitive decline is not associated with typical Alzheimer pathology, and that there are likely to be important environmental causes of dementia.
Pollution exposure in utero has been associated with increased risk of neurodevelopmental delay. Exposure in childhood has been inversely associated with neurodevelopmental outcomes in younger children, and with academic achievement, and neurocognitive performance in older children. In older adults, air pollution has been associated with accelerated cognitive decline.
The air quality within an office can have significant impacts on employees’ cognitive function, including response times and ability to focus, and it may also affect their productivity, according to new research led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health