How Pollution Damages the Brain

In general, pollution is very harmful to our health, causing different physical health problems such as coughing, watering eyes and wheezing. However, it doesn’t end there, actually, there are more effects caused by air pollution and the truth is the pollution can damage your brain.

According to many researches, the human brain is susceptible to the grave harm from pollution, especially the air pollution. In fact, environmental pollutants can have a bad impact on brain development as well as reducing human intelligence, especially in infants and kids whose brains are still developing.

Air Pollution

Here are some main pollutants which have a bad influence on human brain:

Air pollutants and Stroke

When harmful air pollutants can result in artery blockages and inflammation which nourish the brain, they can also cause stroke. More importantly, stroke is a very common cause of incapacitation and even death, therefore, stroke is absolutely terrible.

Particulate matter including fine particulates (PM2.5) can increase the risk of death and of strokes, and this is more likely to happen to women than men. According to the Women’s Health Initiative, for each increase of 10μg/m3 in the fine particulates ( PM2.5) concentration, women have to face a 35- 40 % increase in the risk of a cerebrovascular event. In addition, they can also face a 80- 83% increase in the risk of death from a cerebrovascular event.

Even though a relatively small portion of all strokes seems to be related to PM concentration, it is the fact that nearly 1 million people in the U. S have a stroke every year. That means even a small percentage of the PM can completely cause a significant cases of strokes.

Furthermore, experts have showed that correlations between ischemic stroke and sulfur dioxide, stroke and carbon monoxide, stroke and ozone peak concentrations. Therefore; it’s  very necessary to understand all the factors above which can cause stroke in order to prevent paralysis or worse, sudden death.

Mercury and its developmental damage

Mecury EffectsOverall, Mercury is a potent neurotoxin which can do harm to your brain as well as to the developing nervous system (of infants or children).

If you are exposed to mercury a long time, then this can be explained by the air pollution caused from natural sources like volcanoes. Furthermore, the air pollution can also be resulted from man- made sources such as cement kilns, coal- fired power plants, or industrial boilers.

In details, these sources always emit mercury into the atmosphere but in a significant amount. Therefore, the mercury will remain until it is carried back to the Earth when the rain comes. Once the mercury enters streams and lakes, bacteria will convert it to methylmercury. But the point is this chemical will  accumulate in the tissues of animals and fish and then move up the food chain.

As a result, human are exposed mainly through consumption of fish such as large tuna, king mackeral, swordfish, tilefish that contain the high methylmercury concentrations. Especially when pregnant women eat foods contaminated with this chemical, the mothers will exposed their own developing babies to the dangerous substance. Obviously ,exposing to methylmercury in the womb can have a bad impact on a baby’s growing brain, specifically the nervous system.

In a long term, this will result in eventual impacts on the baby’s memory, cognitive thinking, language, attention, as well as visual spatial skills and fine motor. The baby may also suffer from impairment of hearing, walking, speech, peripheral  vision, lack of movement coordination or muscle weakness.

Actually, even women with no symptoms related to nervous system damage can still give birth to their infants with severe disabilities. Babies and infants who are exposed to methylmercury can suffer from impaired neurological development. That’s why eliminating or minimizing mercury emissions from man-made sources is very important to prevent additional amounts of mercury from affecting human brain.


Lead is a also well-known toxic substance in the environment. Leading poisoning is extremely harmful , especially during early childhood since children are more likely to absorb lead from gastrointestinal tract than adults. Therefore, the lead in the blood of those children can circulate more frequently into their brain.

Specifically, lead poisoning in childhood or infancy can result in long- term mental and socio- emotional effects. Exposure to lead can also cause decreased cognitive functioning such as scanning and executive functioning in adults.

Furthermore, lead exposure can influence your subsequent verbal memory as well as verbal fluency. According to some researches, there are several problems related to lead exposure such as aggression, behavioral issues including sleep complaints and depression, increased delinquent behavior.

For a person, lead can completely cause loss of intelligence,however, not many people notice this. However, when it comes to a large population, this is a very serious problem. Just imagine how terrible it is when so many people in your city become retarded just because of the lead. Therefore, the effect of lead on intelligence is undetectable but it has a really enormous impact on the whole population.

How to reduce the effects of pollution on your brain

Unfortunately, there is no way for you to eliminate all the pollutants but there are several tips you can use to reduce the effects of the pollutants on your brain and more important your children’s.

Here are they:

  1. reduce the effects of pollutionMake sure that you know whether the pollutants are high or not so you can decide when to go out. This is very simple, you just need to check your pollution measuring instrument or listen to the broadcast every day or every time you plan to go outside.
  2. Improve the indoor air quality by using specialized devices like air conditioner, air purifier, air humidifier and dehumidifier. They can help you make the indoor air cleaner and healthier for your family.
  3. Cut back on the amount of packaging your purchase . In details, the process of manufacturing packaging can release harmful emission into the atmosphere so you need to choose brands which use as little packaging as possible.
  4. Reduce the amount of household waste you produce. Recycle everything you can: paper, glass, plastic, aluminum, cardboard or something easy to recycle like that.
  5. Limit the amount of time you spend in your car. It may sound really weird right? Actually, it’s better for you to use public transportation. For short distance, walk or ride your bicycle to do errands. This can not only help you save more money but also reduce the air pollution caused by car emission.

Comment 1

  1. George Manianghat

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