The Impact of Exposure to Air Pollution on Cognition among Elderly People in China

Kai Hu , East China University of Science and Technology

Although most studies have established the association of air pollution with cognition, the effect of air pollution on elderly cognition is uncertain. We examined the longitudinal association between residential concentrations of air pollution and cognitive function in older adults. Using fixed-effect modelling, we analysed data from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) 2013 and 2015, a large, nationally representative sample of China adults aged 45 years or older. We linked participant data with air pollution data from the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China according to the exact interview time and locations. Older adults living in areas with higher air pollution concentrations (at a long-term exposure) had worse cognitive function (-0.01, 95% confidence interval: -0.019, -0.002) even after adjustment for community- and individual-level social and economic characteristics. Results suggest that the association is strongest for the mental status component of cognitive function. This study makes a contribution to the difference of cognition effects between short- and long-term exposure to air pollution and highlights the importance of air pollution to cognitive function in older adults. When an aging society is coming to China, it is crucial to improving the air quality to prevent age-related cognitive decline.

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 Presented in Session 91. Influences on Cognitive Function in Later Life