Air pollution may harm cognitive intelligence, study says



This is kind of hard to imagine, but I suppose if one is getting slowly oxygen-starved, it could happen.

I do wonder sometimes, though, about its pervasiveness. Where I live the air is always totally clean and clear all the time, well, if pollen isn’t counted. Every several years, if the southwest is in a really record drought, there will be a little haze and spectacular sunsets; a “mini dust bowl” phenomenon. You wouldn’t think dust would come all the way from west texas, but it can. Maybe industrial particulates come all the way from California and one can’t see or smell it. But I’m not convinced they do.


Sola dosis facit venenum. The dose makes the poison
Concentration is important. "Pure clean’ air doesn’t exist. There will always be trace amounts of unpleasant things. Mercury is one air pollutant most people don’t think about and certain types of plants and factories spew it out. That wasn’t studied but we know China and other countries have very lax rules and don’t enforce those in the first place so it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were emitting high amounts of it.
And nitrogen dioxide is also a problem along with its NOx cousins because they are highly reactive compounds and can create very nasty chemicals.


Your drinking water is contaminated with birth control pills.

Such exposure is now quite common in the United States and other countries. A previous U.S. Geological Survey found 80 percent of water samples from 139 US rivers and streams were contaminated with drugs including contraceptives.

Celeste McGovern, writing in the National Catholic Register, describes

A landmark 2007 study, for example, described a seven-year whole-lake experiment in northern Ontario, Canada, in which tiny amounts of EE2 induced “intersex” male minnows whose testicles contained eggs, as well as altered egg production in female fishes; this ultimately resulted in the “near extinction” of the species from the lake, as well as a threat to larger fish populations.

Numerous subsequent studies across the globe have linked birth-control hormones to impaired fertility, “transgender fish” and reduced fish populations. Minnesota pollution researchers looking for the endocrine disruptors found them even in remote lakes thought to be pristine; and when they lowered cages of male lab minnows into the lakes, most of them were feminized within three weeks.

According to the United Nations, the United States has among the highest rates of contraceptive use in the world. An estimated 10.5 million American women use the contraceptive pill. The problem for others is that up to 68 percent of the active ingredients are expelled in urine and feces and much of that ends up in drinking water.

There is an infertility epidemic in the US and in other western countries. Hundreds of millions of dollars are now spent on the fertility industry including procedures for in vitro fertilization, and surrogacy, where sperm and eggs are bought and sold and wombs are rented


Interesting. I feel like I’d heard that before, but had forgotten.


Contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are chemicals from drugs [PHARMACEUTICALS] and personal-care products [PPCP] that most wastewater treatment plants don’t filter out.

“‘Emerging concern’ is kind of a relative perspective. It usually means that they’re not regulated, but that there’s things that either might scare people or have preliminary toxicological impacts,” said Paul Westerhoff, vice dean for research at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.

Westerhoff worked with Jacelyn Rice of Duke University on the study, which appeared online in Nature Geoscience in July.

Some CECs, including estrogenic compounds from products like synthetic birth control, disrupt the hormones of aquatic wildlife, harming reproduction.

“If you look upstream and downstream of a wastewater treatment plant, there’s a lot higher degree of feminization downstream,” Westerhoff said.

[And the CEC’s enter the drinking water but are not treated or removed.]


Also: >>

Studies have shown that estrogen can wreak reproductive havoc on some fish, which spawn infertile offspring sporting a mixture of male and female parts. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh found that human breast cancer cells grew twice as fast when exposed to estrogen taken from catfish caught near untreated sewage overflows. “There is the potential for an increased risk for those people who are prone to estrogenic cancer,” said Conrad Volz, lead researcher on the study.

What may be more troubling is the mixture of contaminants and how they might interact to cause health problems. “The biggest concern is the stew effect,” says Scott Dye of the Sierra Club’s Water Sentinels program. “Trace amounts of this mixed with trace amounts of that can equal what? We don’t know.”

With such contaminants proving elusive to municipal filtration systems, the burden of protection often lies with the end user. But getting traces of birth control and other drugs out of your tap water isn’t so easy. Of the many different kinds of in-home water filtration systems available today, only those employing reverse osmosis have been shown to filter out some drugs. Some makers of activated carbon water filters claim their products catch pharmaceuticals, but independent research has not verified such claims.

“The best choice,” says Cathy Sherman of the natural health website Natural News, “would probably be a combination of a reverse osmosis filter augmented by pre- and post-activated carbon filters.” Installing such a system just for drinking water is sufficient, she says, given that water used for cleaning and plumbing doesn’t typically get ingested. As to prevention, the non-profit public health and safety agency, NSF International, urges individuals to not use their toilets or sinks to dispose of unused medications and to opt for the garbage instead; most modern landfills are lined to keep such contaminants inside.


  1. Rahman MF, Yanful EK, Jasim SY (2009) Endocrine disrupting compounds (EDCs) and pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) in the aquatic environment: implications for the drinking water industry and global environmental health. J Water Health 07(2):224–243CrossRefGoogle Scholar


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