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Air pollution linked to accelerated brain aging

New research presented this month at a national gathering of scientists studying the aging process underscores the potential health benefits of air purifiers in homes where older adults live.

Exposure to air pollution can accelerate cognitive decline, new research shows.

The new study, presented at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, concludes that exposure to high levels of air pollution ages the brain prematurely. The study was conducted by a team of scientists at the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Gerontology.

Researchers studied cognitive test scores of more than 15,000 adults over 50 years old and mapped their test scores with air pollution concentration maps. The results showed that the brains of those living in the areas of the highest pollution aged three years faster than those who lived in the areas of least pollution.

The new study resonates with the findings of research from the Rush University Medical Center published earlier this year. That study reported a link between exposure to coarse and fine air pollution particles and cognitive decline. “Unlike other factors that may be involved in dementia such as diet and physical activity, air pollution is something we can intervene on as a society at large through policy, regulation and technology,” lead researcher Jennifer Weuve of the Rush Medical College was reported as saying.

A HEPA air purifier can remove air pollution particles from the air and offer protection indoors, a point Weuve recently made in an interview with a leading medical news site. “If you have central air or forced air heating, you can install HEPA filtration,” Weuve reportedly said. “That can help keep the air in your home clear.”

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