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Air Pollution Causes ‘Huge’ Reduction in Intelligence, Study Reveals

As if the damage air pollution does to your lungs weren’t enough, now researchers say polluted air can reduce your IQ level the equivalent of a whole grade in school. The Guardian reports that they already knew air pollution hinders cognitive performance in students, but the new findings show it can also be particularly harmful for seniors over age 64. The study was done in China, where air pollution is among the highest in the world, but scientists said the results have implications for everyone.

Most of us are very much aware of the pollution problems in China and big cities throughout the rest of the world, but did you know that the air you breathe in your own home, whether you’re in the country or the city, and even at work is probably more polluted than you could ever guess? Nearly half of Americans are breathing polluted air, and it’s air that contributes to an increased risk for autism and chronic diseases like cancer, stroke and heart disease.

The sources of this pollution are myriad. From thirdhand cigarette smoke to your kitchen cabinets to your furniture, you are constantly breathing in particles that you don’t think about, even when you’re fighting a respiratory infection and wondering what made you sick. The sources of this air contamination/pollution are myriad, too: Many substances release volatile organic compounds (VOCs) with short-term and long-term health effects. From formaldehyde to arsenic to flame-retardant chemicals and phthalates, these substances are assaulting your lungs, body and brain.

Around the world, more than 90 percent of people are breathing air like this too — and about 7 million deaths worldwide can be attributed to this it. The good news is there are things you can do, right now, for yourself to reduce your exposure to air pollution, beginning in your home, where pollution can be two to five times higher than outside.

Begin by removing harsh cleaning products and scents from your house, as research links once-weekly use of cleaning chemicals with a 24 to 32 percent higher risk of progressive lung disease. Fortunately, there are plenty of safe and effective options to replace these chemicals. Soap and water, or vinegar and baking soda, for example, can serve as inexpensive alternatives.

The strategies outlined in my previous article, "Are Household Products Killing Us?" help reduce your toxic load. Avoiding powders, scrubs and talcum, which release tiny particles in the air, can help too. Decorating with air purifying plants such as philodendron, spider plant and aloe is another way to remove pollutants.

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