Air Pollution: It Can Hurt Your Brain

When we hear of memory loss in an older adult, most of us probably think of Alzheimer’s disease and its mysterious origins.

Yet, investigation shows that particulates inhaled in dirty air may also affect cognitive decline in older adults.

Researchers linked airborne particulates, common to regions of the country that experience short-term and long-term air pollution, to the strength of verbal memory, working memory, and attention. [1]

Size of particulate matter in the air

The particles under discussion are small enough to be carried in the air we breathe.

Our particle size chart on the Sentry Air website and shown below, points out ordinary particles of dust, for example, are typically under 10 microns in diameter; smoke from oil is under 1 micron in diameter. [As a reference, human hair is roughly 40-75 microns in diameter.]

Sentry Air's particle size chart identifies particles captured by various types of filters.

In the study, which had over 19,000 participants, the researchers concluded that long-term exposure to both fine and coarse particulates speeds up mental decline.

Their study indicated that long-term particulate matter air pollution exposure is “cognitively equivalent to aging by approximately 2 years”. [1]

Children, too?

 Another investigation sought to evaluate the relationship between behavioral problems in children and exposure to airborne polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), which are combustion-related air pollutants related to burning fossil fuels.

Children in the study were followed from in utero to 6-7 years of age.

The study concluded that high prenatal PAH exposure was positively associated with attention problems and symptoms of anxiety and depression. [2]

Effective filtration systems capture tiny airborne particles

All our products can be equipped with either HEPA or ULPA filtration.

As you can see at the top of the particle chart above, HEPA filters are 99.97% efficient at capturing particles down to .03 microns in size.

ULPA filters are 99.9995% efficient at capturing particles as small as 0.12 microns.

Source-capture in the workplace

If you’re concerned about breathing in particulates produced by your work processes, consider capturing particulates where they are created, at the source, before they spread to a broader area.

Two source capture air cleaners -- one large, one small -- from Sentry Air's product line of air cleaners.

Customers use our products to protect their employees from fumes and particulates produced by welding, soldering, adhesives, chemicals, and volatile organic compounds, [DB1] to name a few applications. [Fumes can be captured by our Acid Gas and Activated Carbon filters.]

Our fume extractors are safely portable so they can be moved to where operations are taking place through the shop floor.

They can be configured with arm, hose and hood options that best address your fume extraction needs.

Ambient air cleaners

A manufacturer of medical products that incorporate a dust-producing fabric uses our free-hanging air cleaners to reduce particle counts in their production facilities by as much as 90%.

Sentry Air's ceiling-mounted ambient air cleaner traps unwanted dust, smoke and fumes.

Room air cleaners for office and home 

Offices located in an industrial area may be subject to air pollution from nearby operations.

Our room air cleaners feature powerful fans and high-quality HEPA filtration and/or Activated Carbon filtration to effectively filter room air.

Four portable room air cleaners from Sentry Air offer a range of air volume options.

As shown above, our room air cleaners are available in a range of air volume options and can be readily re-positioned throughout an office or home.

Contact us

For information on air cleaners for work or home, give us a call at 1.800.799.4609, email us at, or fill out this online form to have a Sentry Air Systems’ Applications Specialist contact you to discuss your process.


1. Exposure to Particulate Air Pollution and Cognitive Decline in Older Women

2. Prenatal polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) exposure and child behavior at age 6-7 years