“The Impact of Air Pollutants on Cognitive Abilities and Brain Health: A Comprehensive Study”

2023-05-29 05:00:53

In this regard, a study carried out in 2015 by Harvard scientists makes an impression. Published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, this sees 24 employees with various missions (architects, programmers, designers, etc.) split into two groups. The first is placed in a room where the concentration of CO2 is reduced to a bare minimum thanks to a discreet ventilation system; the second in a room where the CO2 concentration is, conversely, kept high. For the rest, ” furniture, computers and work equipment ” are the same. The participants themselves do not know to which group they belong. Their only obligation is to pass a test to assess their ability to ” decision making », d’« attention » or even « information gathering every day around 3 p.m.

Result ? After two weeks, the score for the less polluted room is 61% higher than the other room, suggesting that the atmospheric conditions in which employees around the world work every day ” significantly affect their cognitive abilities ».

Same observation in 2018 when scientists from l’University College London (UCL) discover through a similar method that higher concentrations of CO2 “ reduce memory, impair concentration, and diminish decision-making abilities “. Or even 2020, the year of the publication of a study in the journal GeoHealth who projects, based on IPCC summariesthat CO2 concentrations could average 930 parts per million (ppm) outdoors and 1400 ppm indoors by 2100, in which case the capabilities of “ basic decision making ” and of ” strategic thoughts could decrease by approximately 25 and 50% respectively in humans.

Particularity of the study: its main author Shelly Miller, of the University of Colorado, looks in detail at the biological mechanisms at the origin of the phenomenon. Based on medical research, the researcher recalls in particular that when the human body faces air heavily impregnated with carbon dioxide, the levels of CO2 present in the blood increase, thus reducing the quantity of oxygen which reaches the brain. .

« Carbon dioxide dissolves in our blood and reacts with the water in our blood to create carbonic acid. This, in turn, dissolves into hydrogen and bicarbonate ionssummarizes the ecological platform We Don’t Have Time. If there is an increase in the concentration of hydrogen ions in our blood, the acidity level of the blood increases and this creates an electrolyte imbalance, causing increased discomfort and a decline in intellectual performance ».

Neurodegenerative diseases

Beyond CO2 alone, it is mainly the other pollutants that are now the subject of increased attention from the scientific community. These include nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and other fine particles, whose research has long focused on the effects in terms of pulmonary and cardiovascular diseases. As a reminder, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for 4.2 million premature deaths per year worldwide.

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