Air pollution isn’t just a threat to the heart and lungs: It can also affect learning, memory, and mood, researchers find. They exposed mice to extended periods of polluted or filtered air, and found that those exposed to pollution were slower to learn, quick to forget, and possibly more vulnerable to symptoms of depression and anxiety, the Telegraph reports. “This could have important and troubling implications for people who live and work in polluted urban areas around the world,” the lead researcher says.
The mice were exposed to the controlled air for 10 months, 6 hours a day, then had their learning abilities tested in various experiments. When the Ohio State scientists examined the brains of the mice exposed to pollution, they found physical changes “linked to decreased learning and memory abilities,” said a researcher. “We suspect that the systemic inflammation caused by breathing polluted air is being communicated to the central nervous system,” added another. (Read more air pollution stories.)