New research from the University of Warwick shows that human memory is significantly worse in parts of England with high levels of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and air particulates (PM10). The difference in memory quality between England’s cleanest and most-polluted areas is equivalent to the loss of memory from 10 extra years of aging.

This is consistent with prior smaller-scale laboratory research on rats and other animals. But the new work, by Nattavudh Powdthavee, Professor of Behavioural Science at Warwick Business School, and Andrew Oswald, Professor of Economics and Behavioural Science, is some of the first to confirm the same in humans.

Photograph © Andrew Dunn http://www.andrewdunnphoto.com [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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