Smog In Our Brains

In this article by the American Psychiatric Association written in 2012, the EFFECTS of more familiar technology is revisited. It now seems likely that the harmful effects of particulate matter go beyond vascular damage. Jennifer Weuve, MPH, ScD, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Rush Medical College, found that older women who had been exposed to high levels of the pollutant experienced greater cognitive decline compared with other women their age (Archives of Internal Medicine, 2012). Weuve’s team gathered data from the Nurses’ Health Study Cognitive Cohort, a population that included more than 19,000 women across the United States, age 70 to 81. Using the women’s address history, Weuve and her colleagues estimated their exposure to particulate matter over the previous seven to 14 years. The researchers found that long-term exposure to high levels of the pollution significantly worsened the women’s cognitive decline, as measured by tests of cognitive skill. (APA, 2012). We have long believed that exposure to air pollution could be detrimental to our health, particularly our cardiovascular system. This study now suggests that cognitive problems also arise as a result of exposure to air pollutants. The burning of fossil fuels is a pretty short time frame when compared to the age of man and a nanosecond when compared with the age of the Earth. While we must be vigilant regarding new technology, such as smartphones, AI and VR, we must not forget that earlier technology may destroy us first. RE

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