Air Pollution Linked to Children’s Cognitive Decline, Alzheimer’s and Death

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

air pollution brain

Humans are polluting the air at a rapid rate. The source of the pollution can be found in major cities across the world; Jakarta, New Delhi, Mexico City, Paris, London, and Los Angeles.

Man-made pollution is dangerous because it is easily absorbed into the body. Large pollution particles are only around the size of the diameter of a hair, while ultrafine particles are even smaller. Once these tiny specs of pollution enter the body, they can cause a number of serious illnesses, such as asthma, pneumonia, and bronchitis.

Pneumonia is a dangerous condition that claims the lives of nearly one million children annually, with around half of those cases arising as a result of pollution. (1)


It’s not only respiratory conditions that are skyrocketing at alarming rates. Pollution is also linked to neurological conditions, like brain fog, Alzheimer’s disease, and neurodegeneration. Being so small, particulate matter from air pollution travel from our lungs into the blood and circulate into the brain. Once there, it can promote brain inflammation. (2)

While mild neurogeneration is a natural aspect of aging, it can be worsened and quickened by neuroinflammation from severe air pollution. Even worse, severe air pollution can speed up neurodegeneration when the brain is at the peak of its development — during childhood. (3)

Medical Mysteries Solved: Unexplained Deaths

Following a spate of unexplained “accidental” deaths in the late 1990s, an alarming discovery was made. When neuropathologist and pediatrician Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas examined the brains of these deceased individuals under a microscope, she found tiny dark spots surrounded by inflamed tissue. At the center of these spots were particulate matter and ultrafine matter.

This was the only medical aspect that each of these individuals who experienced an unexplained death, had in common. The other shared commonality, which was not medical but environmental, was that they were all from New Mexico, where the pollution levels are around six times the “safe” levels recommended by international guidelines. 

Another interesting discovery during the analysis of these brains was the presence of amyloid plaques, little marks that resemble scars or pink stems. Amyloid plaques are typically present in the brains of those who suffer from alzheimer’s.

Atypical Cognition Among Children Living in Polluted Cities

According to one study, children living in the polluted region of New Mexico, had more cognitive decline than peers of the same age, similar backgrounds, and neighborhoods. (4)


The study also revealed specifics; the areas of the brain that were lacking the most were the parietal lobes of the cortex, as well as the prefrontal and temporal lobes. These are key areas that undergo most of their development during childhood. 

Another area that was affected, revealed by brain imaging, was the auditory brain stem and the white matter (where connections for communication occur). This could explain delays in speech and language development. In addition, neuroinflammation is markedly higher among people living in polluted areas. (4, 5)

A number of studies and reports from around the world have revealed the same truth; pollution is affecting the health and cognitive development of children in devastating ways. (6)

Pollution-Related Public Health Crisis 

It is still possible to clean up our environment by reducing harmful pollutants in the air. It is important for everyone to act on a sense of urgency and reduce the amount of plastic and non-renewables we consume in our daily lives. This will reduce the need for manufacturing, which in turn will see fewer harmful emissions in our breathable air.  

Each member of society, alongside the industrial complexes, need to change their way of doing things. There is no longer time to wait for others to bring forth answers. 

Neurodegenerative diseases are among the top 10 mass killers, and air pollution, even in moderate and “acceptable” levels, is directly linked with these conditions. As pollution levels rise, so does the prevalence of these conditions among younger members of society.