Philippa Clarke

Philippa ClarkeLiving in a polluted area may be bad for more than your heart and lungs, it may also affect how clearly you think as you get older. A study by ISR researcher Philippa Clarke found that older adults living in highly polluted areas showed greater rates of cognitive decline than those living in more pristine environments, according to a June 18 article in The Chicago Tribune. Clarke and a colleague analyzed data on 780 adults aged 55 or older who participated in ISR’s 2001-2002 Americans’ Changing Lives Study. As part of that study, participants’ cognitive function was measured by math and memory tests. Clarke and her co-researcher linked those cognitive results to EPA air monitoring data from the different census tracts where respondents lived and found that participants who lived in the most polluted areas had test error scores that were one and a half times those of participants who lived in low pollution areas. Although the nation has made significant progress in the last decade to reduce air pollution, the study is further evidence of the need to continue and advance these efforts, the researchers said.