While the toll that breathing polluted air exacts on health and physical wellbeing is richly documented, lesser known is its impact on human intelligence. In a first-of-its-kind study, conducted with our colleague Xin Zhang of Beijing Normal University, we found that continued exposure to air pollution lowers human intelligence, with the effects becoming more pronounced with age. Developing countries, which dominate the list of the world’s most polluted cities, are most at risk from such effects.
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