Not only can harm the respiratory tract, a new study finds that long-term exposure to air pollution can also cause physical changes in the brain, which eventually cause problems in learning and memory abilities.
The study also found an association between air pollution and higher rates of depression and anxiety.
Researchers find brain's hippocampus area of the long-term exposure to pollution will have reduced the complexity of the cell, namely the changes that have been linked to decreased learning ability and memory capability.
"The results suggest exposure to polluted air could show a negative effect on the brain, which can cause various health problems," said Laura Fonken from Ohio State University, as reported by LiveScience, Wednesday (07/06/2011).
According to him, these results could have important implications and disturbing for people who live and work in urban areas with polluted air around the world.
Although studies have been published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry was conducted in mice, but researchers say it has the same effect in humans.
In the study, mice were given filtered air and polluted air for six hours a day, five days a week for 10 months, which is almost half the life span of mice. Polluted air containing fine particles such as those made by cars and factories.
According to the Department of Neuroscience, Ohio State University, the concentration of particles inhaled mice equivalent to what people breathe in some polluted urban areas.
After 10 months of study, rats underwent several behavioral tests. All rats were trained to find the hole for five days, but mice that breathed polluted air takes longer to learn where the holes were and are less able to remember where he was when tested.
In another experiment, rats were exposed to polluted air also showed higher levels of depression compared to mice who breathed filtered air.