Here’s the opener – more on his site.
Air pollution is a very big deal. Its adverse effects on numerous health outcomes and general mortality are widely documented. However, our understanding of its cognitive costs is more recent and those costs are almost certainly still significantly under-emphasized. For example, cognitive effects are not mentioned in most EPA materials.
World Bank data indicate that 3.7 billion people, about half the world’s population, are exposed to more than 50 µg/m³ of PM2.5 on an annual basis, 5x the unit of measure for most of the findings below.
– A 2019 OECD paper analyzing European satellite data estimates “that a 1 µg/m³[!] increase in PM2.5 concentration (or a 10% increase at the sample mean) causes a 0.8% reduction in real GDP that same year. Ninety-five per cent of this impact is due to reductions in output per worker, which can occur through greater absenteeism at work or reduced labour productivity.”
– Chess players make more mistakes on polluted days: “We find that an increase of 10 µg/m³ raises the probability of making an error by 1.5 percentage points, and increases the magnitude of the errors by 9.4%. The impact of pollution is exacerbated by time pressure. When players approach the time control of games, an increase of 10 µg/m³, corresponding to about one standard deviation, increases the probability of making a meaningful error by 3.2 percentage points, and errors being 17.3% larger.” – Künn et al 2019.Patrick Collison – Pollution (webpage)
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