Yale Study Shows Air Pollution Causes “Huge” Reduction In Intelligence

(John Vibes) A study conducted in China by researchers from the Yale School of Public Health in the United States has shown that air pollution causes a  “huge” reduction in intelligence. While the research did take place in China, which is known to have very serious pollution problems, the researchers suggest that 95% of the global population is breathing unsafe air at levels that would cause a significant reduction in intelligence.

The post Yale Study Shows Air Pollution Causes “Huge” Reduction In Intelligence appeared on Stillness in the Storm.

Stricter Air Pollution Standards Could Prevent Millions of Diabetes Cases

Air pollution limits set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are too high, needlessly contributing to disease. In fact, by making them stricter, more than 100,000 people in the U.S. might avoid developing Type 2 diabetes each year. [1]

Air pollution was found to have contributed to 3.2 million new diabetes cases in 2016 alone – 14% of the worldwide total. Pollution was linked to 150,000 cases in the United States per year. Additionally, the study found that 8.2 million years of healthy life were lost in 2016 due to pollution-linked diabetes. [2]

Senior study author Dr. Ziyad Al-Aly, an assistant professor of medicine at Washington University, said of the findings:

“There’s an undeniable relationship between diabetes and particle air pollution levels well below the current safe standards. Many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened.” [1]

How Air Pollution can Contribute to Disease and Diabetes

Particulate air pollution is composed of microscopic pieces of dust, dirt, smoke, and soot. The finest particles regulated by the EPA are 2.5 micrometers. By comparison, a single strand of human hair is 30 times bigger than that – 70 micrometers.

Particles smaller than 10 micrometers can enter the lungs and pass into the bloodstream, which carries them to different organs, sparking a chronic inflammatory reaction believed to cause disease.

Dr. Philip Landrigan, dean for global health at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, who was not involved in the study, said:

“Ten of 15 years ago, we thought that air pollution caused pneumonia, asthma, and bronchitis and not much more than that. We now know that air pollution is a very important cause of heart disease and stroke and contributes to chronic lung disease, lung cancer, and chronic kidney disease.”

The majority of Type 2 diabetes cases are caused by obesity, lack of physical activity, and genes. However, studies have pointed to a direct link between Type 2 diabetes and air pollution. This is because air pollution is thought to trigger inflammation and reduce the pancreas’ ability to produce insulin.

For the study, researchers examined the relationship between fine particulate matter (FPM) and the risk of diabetes by first analyzing data from 1.7 million U.S. veterans. [2]

The data showed that when a population of the vets was exposed to pollution at a level of between 5 to 10 micrograms per cubic meter of air and about 21% developed diabetes. When that exposure was increased to between 11.9 to 13.6 micrograms per cubic meter of air, 24% of the group developed the disease.

A 3% increase doesn’t sound like much, but it represents an increase of 5,000 to 6,000 new diabetes cases per 100,000 people in a given year, according to the researchers.

The team then linked the data to the EPA’s land-based air monitoring systems and space-borne satellites operated by NASA.

They used several statistical models to test the validity and the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and found a strong link to air pollution.

From there, the scientists created a model to evaluate diabetes risk across various pollution levels using all studies linking diabetes to air pollution.

Read: Thousands of Lives Could be Saved by Stricter Air Pollution Standards

Lastly, they analyzed data from the Global Burden of Disease study. The research is conducted on a yearly basis and includes contributions from researchers located all over the world.

Al-Aly said:

“Our research shows a significant link between air pollution and diabetes globally. We found an increased risk, even at low levels of air pollution currently considered safe by the U.S. EPA and the World Health Organization.

This is important because many industry lobbying groups argue that current levels are too stringent and should be relaxed. Evidence shows that current levels are still not sufficiently safe and need to be tightened.”

The risk of pollution-linked Type 2 diabetes was found to be higher in low-income countries such as India, Afghanistan, Papua New Guinea, and Guyana.

People living in wealthier countries like France, Finland, and Iceland have a lower risk of diabetes because they have what they need in terms of environmental mitigation systems and clear-air policies.

The commission found that 92% of pollution-related deaths occurred in low- and middle-income countries among minorities and the poor. Children face the greatest health risks from pollution, even at low doses. [1]


[1] CNN

[2] Daily Mail

IKEA to Start Selling Air-Purifying Curtains to Help People Breathe Easier

In recent years, IKEA has become more health and environmentally-conscious, removing Styrofoam from packaging, reducing plastic use, and even planning to use only renewable and recycled materials in its products by 2030. The company launched products perfect for city-dwellers wanting to get in touch with nature, including a sustainable DIY indoor garden, as well as a hydroponic gardening system that goes in your very own kitchen. Now, IKEA plans on helping buyers breathe easier with air-purifying curtains.

The new Gundrid curtains employ some pretty high-tech ways of purifying the air. They don’t use any special filters or electricity. Instead, the curtains contain a mineral-based photocatalyst activated by both indoor and outdoor light that works a lot like photosynthesis.

Read: IKEA may Nix Use of Environmentally-Destructive Styrofoam

Once activated, the Gundrid curtains filter out common indoor air pollutants, including formaldehyde.

An IKEA representative explained:

“Successful laboratory tests have been carried out to ensure that the photocatalyst coating works and that it is safe. The next step is chamber tests and home tests to confirm that Gundrid efficiently removes volatile organic compounds in a room.”

Mauricio Affonso, Product Developer at IKEA Range & Supply, said in a press release:

Source: Ikea

“For me, it’s important to work on products that solve actual problems and are relevant to people. Textiles are used across homes, and by enabling a curtain to purify the air, we are creating an affordable and space-saving air purifying solution that also makes the homes more beautiful.”

IKEA noted in the press release that 91% of the world’s population is exposed to air pollution, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines for health and safety.

Read: IKEA Launches Sustainable DIY Indoor Garden

Lena Pripp-Kovac, Head of Sustainability at Inter IKEA Group, added:

“Besides enabling people to breathe better air at home, we hope that Gundrid will increase people’s awareness of indoor air pollution, inspiring behavioral changes that contribute to a world of clean air.

Gundrid is the first product to use the technology, but the development will give us opportunities for further applications on other textiles.”


[1] Bustle


Featured image source: Ikea

Air Pollution May be to Blame for 20% of Dementia Cases

A new study in Translational Psychiatry suggests that women who are exposed to air heavily polluted by vehicle exhaust and other sources of fine particulate matter have a significantly higher risk of developing dementia.

For the new study, researchers tracked the cognitive health of 3,647 women ages 65-79 for 10 years. All of the women were dementia-free at the beginning of the study. As part of the Women’s Health Initiative Memory Study (WHIMS), researchers assessed the participants’ cognitive function annually.

The researchers used EPA data to estimate the women’s daily particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) where they lived. PM2.5 are fine particles that are up to 2.5 micrometers in diameter. They are made up of solid and liquid droplets which are emitted from power plants and motor vehicles, and other sources of combustion.

Read: Toxic Nanoparticle Air Pollution Found in Human Brain Tissue

The miniscule size of PM2.5 makes them easy to inhale, and inhalation of the particles can increase the risk of heart disease, asthma, reduced lung function, and other health problems.

High Levels of Pollution, High Levels of Risk

The team found that women who live in areas exposed to high PM2.5 levels had an 81% increased risk of global cognitive decline and a 92% increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias compared to women who live in areas with low PM2.5 levels.

Researchers also looked at the brain tissue of lab mice and discovered amyloid beta protein clumps – the hallmark signature of Alzheimer’s disease – and the die-off of cells in the brain’s hippocampus, where memories are formed.

Air pollution was also shown to affect a woman’s cognitive abilities even more dramatically if she carries APOE-e4, a gene variant which puts them at higher risk for Alzheimer’s disease.

Using air pollution standards set by the EPA, researchers found major differences on all those measures between those who breathed clean air and those exposed to pollution levels deemed unsafe.

In the lab mice, breathing air collected over the 10 Freeway in Los Angeles led to denser brain concentrations of amyloid protein which were more likely to form dangerous clumps than breathing air that met EPA standards pre-2012.

Read: Toxic Air Affects 90% of World’s Population


Are we seeing this in real-time in China?

Approximately 54% of the world’s population lived in urban areas as of 2014, according to the United Nations. In China, where air pollution is extreme, more than 55% of the population live in the city.

Interestingly, a 2013 study published in the Lancet showed that the number of people in that country with Alzheimer’s disease soared from 3.7 million in 1990 to 9.2 million in 2010. These are eclipsing figures from the 2012 World Alzheimer’s Reportwhich predicted an estimated 5.4 million dementia cases in China in 2010.

Potential Legal Ramifications?

The authors of the study, geriatric and environmental health specialists at USC, estimate that prior to the 2012 air pollution standards set by the EPA, about 21% of new cases of dementia and of accelerated cognitive decline could likely have been the result of exposure to air pollution.

Here’s where things get tricky.

When the EPA devises its pollution standards, the agency is required to consider the impact they will have on the health of “vulnerable populations.” The EPA is also tasked with using its regulatory authority to protect those populations. The standards set in 2012 clearly do not adequately protect women (and mice) who are genetically predisposed to developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Though air pollution has been decreasing since 2012, Dr. Jiu-Chiuan Chen, an environmental health specialist at USC’s Keck School of Medicine and the study’s senior author, said it’s not clear that even current standards are safe for aging brains, or for brains that are genetically vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

It would behoove the Trump administration to look over this latest study, as President Trump has indicated that it will either trash or overhaul Obama administration regulations that tightened emissions from power plants and established tougher fuel efficiency standards for cars in an effort to fight climate change and cut air pollution.

Chen said:

“If people in the current administration are trying to reduce the cost of treating diseases, including dementia, then they should know that relaxing the Clean Air Act regulations will do the opposite.”


[1] Medical News Today

[2] Los Angeles Times

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