The study found that damage from toxic air is far deeper than the well-known impacts on physical health.
The authors argue their conclusions are probably relevant for any location with high ongoing levels of air pollution - something that includes 98 percent of cities in low and middle-income countries with populations over 100,000.
This research was the joint work of _Dr Xin Zhang of Beijing Normal University, Dr Xi Chen of Yale School of Public Health, Dr Xiaobo Zhang of Peking University and the International Food Policy Research Institute. It also found men to be more affected than women, especially if from a lower educational background. "If we calculate the losses for these categories, it may be several years". In this new effort, the researchers have built on the findings of other studies that have suggested air pollution can cause cognitive decline, Medical Xpress reported.
In a letter orchestrated by the UK100 group of cities, city leaders have called on May to introduce a new Environment and Clean Air Act which establishes "strong" air quality limits linked to World Health Organisation guidelines, and have recommended that such limits be enforced by an independent statutory body.
"For much of Asia, if air pollution were removed as a risk for death, 60 year olds would have a 15 per cent to 20 per cent chance of living to age 85 or older", he added.More news: Packers sign QB Aaron Rodgers to contract extension
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Air pollution causes 7 million premature deaths a year, but it harmful to mental health was less well known. A one milligram increase in pollution over three years can lead to losing more than a month of education.
They found that both verbal and maths scores decreased with greater air pollution exposure, though verbal scores fell more than maths ones. Events like dust storms and wildfires produce large amounts of the particulate matter, too.
As those in their senior years make some of the most important financial decisions regarding retirement and pensions, Rebecca Daniels, from the United Kingdom public health charity Medact, said the results are "extremely worrying".
In the research done recently, it was for the first time that data on air pollution and lifespan was studied together to examine the global variations and find out how they affect the overall life expectancy.
Experts said the fact that older people were badly hit by this pollution was worrying because many people need to make important financial decisions late in life.