Study says pollution hurts seniors' mental capacity

It’s well established that regular exercise and a healthy diet contribute to longevity, and a sedentary lifestyle and poor diet can cause the opposite effect, but a new study has found another potential hazard to seniors’ mental health: pollution.

As reported by HealthDay News, researchers from the Gerontological Society of America followed 14,000 people aged 50 and over, and discovered that those who lived in areas with high levels of airborne pollutants did not score as well in language, word recall and knowledge as well as those living in areas with less pollution.

“As a result of age-related declines in health and functioning, older adults are particularly vulnerable to the hazards of exposure to unhealthy air,” Jennifer Ailshire, one of the authors of the study and a researcher at the National Institute on Aging (NIA), was quoted as saying.

And while this research may seem shocking, Ailshire said high levels of pollution can also cause breathing problems and even premature death, especially among seniors.

But before there’s any panicking among Baby Boomers who live in big cities, it’s important to note that there major gaps in the research, according to HealthDay News: first, the studies simply reported a correlation, not actual causation, and the study has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed journal, which will ensure all details are confirmed to be true.