Learn English with BBC Podcasts

Air Pollution and Intelligence

Published: 8.31.2018
Level 5   |   Time: 2:57
Accent: British

Researchers believe air pollution has a negative impact on cognitive performance.


You can download the file [ HERE ].


triangle Directions 목표 Direcciones Instruções


    It is important to read the vocabulary before you watch the video. This will improve your ability to understand the video. It will also help you understand how the new vocabulary is used naturally.

  2. WATCH the VIDEO

    The first time you watch the video, just try to understand the overall situation.


    First try to answer all the questions from memory. Then rewatch the video and try to answer the questions that you missed.

  4. WATCH and READ the SCRIPT

    Watch the video again while you read the script. Reading and listening at the same time will help you hear each individual word and improve your listening accuracy.


    There are several different activities that focus on test preparation, vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure.


    Es importante leer el vocabulario antes de ver el video. Esto mejorará su capacidad para comprender el video. También le ayudará a comprender cómo se usa el nuevo vocabulario de forma natural.

  2. VER el VIDEO

    La primera vez que vea el video, intente comprender la situación general.


    Primero intente responder todas las preguntas de memoria. Luego, vuelva a ver el video e intente responder las preguntas que se perdió.


    Mire el video nuevamente mientras lee el guión. Leer y escuchar al mismo tiempo lo ayudará a escuchar cada palabra individual y mejorará su precisión auditiva.


    Hay una serie de actividades diferentes que se centran en la preparación de la examen, el vocabulario, la gramática y la estructura de las oraciones.

  1. 어휘 읽기

    비디오를 보기 전에 어휘와 배경을 읽는 것이 중요합니다. 이렇게 하면 비디오를 이해하는 능력이 향상됩니다. 또한 새로운 어휘가 어떻게 자연스럽게 사용되는지 이해하는데 도움이됩니다.

  2. 비디오 보기

    비디오를 처음 볼 때 전체 상황을 이해하려고 노력하세요.

  3. 문제에 답하기

    먼저 모든 질문에 답을 해보세요. 그런 다음 비디오를 다시보고 놓친 질문에 답해보세요.

  4. 비디오 보면서 대본 읽기

    대본을 읽는 동안 비디오를 다시 보세요. 읽기와 듣기를 동시에 하면 각각의 단어를 듣고, 듣기 정확도를 향상시킬 수 있습니다.

  5. 액티비티 하기

    듣기 정확도, 발음, 어휘, 문법 및 문장 구조에 초점을 맞춘 다양한 액티비티가 있습니다.


    É importante ler o vocabulário antes de assistir ao vídeo. Isso melhorará sua capacidade de entender o vídeo. Também ajudará você a entender como o novo vocabulário é usado naturalmente.


    Na primeira vez que assistir ao vídeo, tente entender a situação geral.


    Primeiro, tente responder a todas as perguntas de memória. Em seguida, assista novamente ao vídeo e tente responder às perguntas que você errou.


    Assista ao vídeo novamente enquanto lê o roteiro. Ler e ouvir ao mesmo tempo ajudará você a ouvir cada palavra individualmente e a melhorar sua precisão auditiva.


    Existem várias atividades diferentes que se concentram na preparação para o teste, vocabulário, gramática e estrutura de frases.

triangle Vocabulary 어휘 Vocabulário Vocabulario

  • ☐ ☐ ☐ emerge [v] - be discovered
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ verbal skills [n] - language skills
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ joint [adj] - combined
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ chronic [adj] - occurring again and again
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ exposure [n] - touched by
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ harm [v] - injure
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ cognitive [adj] - related to thinking
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ performance [n] - ability
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ monitor [v] - watch
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ pollutants [n] - dangerous chemicals, pollution
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ publish [v] - print (some writing) and give to the public
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ significant [adj] - large
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ a drop [n] - a decrease
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ average [adj] - middle, normal
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ equivalent to [exp] - equal to
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ enormous [adj] - very large
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ degenerative [adj] - causing decay, getting worse
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ previous [adj] - before
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ particularly [adv] - especially
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ striking [adj] - surprising, shocking
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ come out [phv] - finish the study, get a result
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ put forward [phv] - give, suggest
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ manual [adj] - physical labor
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ exposed [adj] - put in danger
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ toxic [adj] - poisonous, bad
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ surely [adv] - definitely, of course
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ rural [adj] - countryside
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ fumes [n] - gases
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ tissues [n] - brain material
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ regulate [v] - control
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ shrink [v] - make smaller
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ vulnerable [adj] - in a weak or dangerous position
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ implications [n] - effects
  • ☐ ☐ ☐ hit the headlines [exp] - be in the news

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions 문제 Questões Preguntas [ ? ]


These are guided listening questions. These questions are NOT designed to test or trick you. They are designed to guide you through the video.

TIP: If you don’t understand something in the video, click "Show Answers". You should be able to understand all of the important points of the video by reading the questions and the correct answers.


Estas son preguntas de escucha guiada. Estas preguntas NO están diseñadas para ponerte a prueba o engañarte. Están diseñados para guiarlo a través del video.

CONSEJO: Si no entiende algo en el video, haga clic en "Show Answers". Debería poder comprender todos los puntos importantes del video leyendo las preguntas y las respuestas correctas.


이것은 안내식 듣기 질문입니다. 이 질문들은 당신을 시험하거나 속이기 위한 것이 아닙니다. 동영상을 통해 안내하도록 설계되었습니다.

팁 : 동영상에서 이해가 되지 않는 부분이 있으면 "Show Answers"를 클릭하세요. 질문과 정답을 읽으면서 영상의 중요한 요점을 모두 이해할 수 있어야 합니다.


Estas são perguntas de escuta guiadas. Essas perguntas NÃO foram elaboradas para testar ou enganar você. Eles são projetados para guiá-lo através do vídeo.

DICA: Se você não entender algo no vídeo, clique em "Mostrar respostas". Você deve entender todos os pontos importantes do vídeo lendo as perguntas e as respostas corretas.

  1. Air pollution can ______.
    harm your lungs
    harm your breathing
    harm your thinking
    harm your nose

  2. The study measured people's ______ and ______ skills.

  3. People exposed to high levels of pollution ______ than unexposed people.
    had slightly lower test scores
    had much lower test scores
    had the same test scores
    took longer to complete tests

  4. The study also showed that pollution ______.
    can increase the risk of other diseases
    makes people age faster
    causes lung degeneration
    is not related to lung disease

  5. ______ and ______ tended to do worse in the study.
    Elderly men
    Educated men
    Pregnant women
    Less educated people

  6. These groups do worse because they ______.
    work outside in big cities
    work outside on the farms
    stay inside and don't get fresh air
    can't afford to buy filters and masks

  7. The majority of deaths in India related to air pollution occur ______.
    in urban areas
    in rural areas

  8. In the brain, white matter ______.
    fights disease
    controls memories
    regulates breathing
    controls math and language

  9. Air pollution _______ the amount of white matter in the brain.

  10. ______ in the world are breathing polluted air.
    19% of all people
    59% of all people
    90% of all people
    99% of all people

triangle Sentence Building (Summary) 문장 만들기 Construção de sentença Construcción de oraciones

Directions: Write sentences about the video clip using the words given. You can change the word form or add words, but you cannot change the word order.

Instrucciones: Escriba oraciones sobre el videoclip usando las palabras dadas. Puede cambiar la forma de la palabra o agregar palabras, pero no puede cambiar el orden de las palabras.

Instrucciones: Escreva orações sobre o videoclipe usando as palavras-chave. Você pode alterar a forma da palavra ou adicionar palavras, mas não pode alterar a ordem das palavras.

지시 : 주어진 단어를 사용하여 비디오 클립에 대한 문장을 씁니다. 어형을 변경하거나 단어를 추가할 수 있지만 어순은 변경할 수 없습니다.

Sentence 1

air / you / breathe / could / damage / intelligent

The air (that/which) you breathe could damage your intelligence.

Sentence 2

in / four / year / study / scientist / close / monitor / math / verbal / skill / 20,000 / person / China

In a four-year study, scientists closely monitored the math and verbal skills of 20,000 people in China.

Sentence 3

they / find / high / pollution / level / lead / significant / drop / test / score

They found (that) high pollution levels [led/leads] to a significant drop in test scores.

Sentence 4

the / long / people / expose / air / pollution / the / more / cognitive / performance / decline

The longer people [are/were] exposed to air pollution, the more their cognitive performance [declines/declined].

Sentence 5

study / also / suggest / pollution / increase / risk / degenerative / disease / such / Alzheimer’s

The study also suggested (that) pollution increases the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Sentence 6

elder / man / and / less / educate / person / most / severe / affect / by / air / pollution

Elderly men and less educated people [are/were] most severely affected by air pollution.

Sentence 7

man / more / likely / work / outdoor / manual / job / so / they / more / likely / expose / toxic / air

Men are more likely to work outdoors in manual jobs, so they are more likely to be exposed to toxic air.

Sentence 8

75 / percent / death / India / relate / air / pollution / be / rural / area

75 percent of deaths in India (that are) related to air pollution are in rural areas.

Sentence 9

white / matter / brain / which / control / mathematic / language / skill / decrease / by / air / pollution

(The) White matter in the brain, which controls mathematics and language skills, is decreased by air pollution.

Sentence 10

people / less / educate / less / white / matter / so / they / more / vulnerable / air / pollution

People with less education have less white matter, so they are more vulnerable to air pollution.
People who have less education have less white matter, so they are more vulnerable to air pollution.
People who are less educated have less white matter, so they are more vulnerable to air pollution.

Sentence 11

world / health / organization / say / more / 90 / percent / people / breath / unsafe / air

The World Health Organization says (that) more than 90 percent of people are breathing (in) unsafe air.

triangle Discussion 논의 Questões de discussão Discusión

  1. Explain how pollution affects intelligence.
  2. Why were elderly men strongly affected by air pollution?
  3. Why were less educated people strongly affected?
  4. In your opinion, what other factors affect brain function both positively and negatively?
  5. Do you think the city/countryside pollution dynamic in India is similar in your country? Why?
  6. Do you think your cognitive performance is related to the air quality in your city?
  7. Which sources of pollutants are the worst in your country? How can they be reduced?
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triangle Script 대본 Roteiro Texto

It's emerged that the air you breathe could damage your intelligence. A joint American and Chinese study found that chronic exposure to air pollution can seriously harm your cognitive performance. The BBC's Alice Porter told me more about the research.

This was done over a four-year period where the math and verbal skills of some 20,000 people in China were closely monitored. So, we then compared the results with the level of pollutants in the air at the time. In their findings - they've been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - and they found that high pollution levels led to a significant drop in test scores. So, they concluded that the longer people were exposed to dirty air, the greater the damage to their cognitive performance with the average impact equivalent to having lost a year of the person's education, which is enormous.

And this study, they’ve also suggested pollution also increases the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s. Now that's something we've seen before with previous studies. And also previous research has found that air pollution does harm cognitive performance. But it appears that this study, this is the first one to examine people of all ages and the difference between men and women. What came out which was particularly striking was that the people who came out worse in the study were elderly people - men. And I think most interestingly, those who were less educated.

And why is that happening?

Well one of the reasons is, sort of put forward by some of the researchers, is that group that I just mentioned, particularly men, they're more likely to be working outdoors in manual jobs and they're more likely to be exposed to toxic air. Now you may be thinking well if you're perhaps a farmer working out in the fields surely the air will be cleaner. You'd be away from toxic air. But actually, if we think of India, which has hit the headlines a lot for pollution, a study in January found that 75 percent of deaths related to air pollution in India was in rural areas. So, for those people who are less educated who are outdoors more, it impacts on their lifestyle and also the way that these toxic fumes affect them.

Now, Dr. Shi Chan is one of the researchers who was involved with this study.

In people’s brains, there are two type of main tissues: one is white matter and one is grey matter. The white matter is more regulating the mathematics and the language skills. So if a certain individual with lower education working outdoors for a longer period of time, so their white matter can already being shrinked by air pollution. So that means giving the same dose of air pollution, they are more vulnerable than people with higher education.

Now that was Dr Shi there. But of course this has implications not just in China but around the world. The World Health Organization says more than 90 percent of people are breathing in unsafe air.

And I think this study will certainly raise questions about the personal impact for those people who are regularly exposed to pollution.

Alice Porter.