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Air pollution could be making us less intelligent

It’s long been established that breathing polluted air can have negative effects on our physical wellbeing—such as lung and heart diseases, cancer, even death—but it can also have consequences on our mental health. Researchers compared 20,000 Chinese citizens’ performance on language and arithmetic tests conducted between 2010 and 2014 with recorded levels of local nitrogen dioxide and sulfur dioxide pollution, The Guardian reports. High pollution levels were linked to significant drops in test scores, with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person’s education, the scientists report this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The drop in test performance was greater for men, individuals over the age of 64, and people with less education.

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