LOS ANGELES (CBS) — New research suggests that pollution in Southern California may be harming our brains.

We already know that pollution can do harm to our lungs, but research from the University of Southern California suggests that residents here are even worse off thanks to our traffic-polluted freeways.

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“It’s not like what you see in smog and the days when you don’t get to see the mountains,” says Todd Morgan a researcher with USC referring to the type of pollution investigated in the study.

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Researchers looked at the smallest of particles that are not visible to the naked eye. Air samples were taken from the 110 Freeway near USC and exposed to mice over a 10 week exposure period, over about 150 hours. The results showed brain damage — keeping neurons from developing — which could eventually lead to memory loss, even developmental disorders in children. According to researchers there is suggestive evidence, it could happen to us too.

“I’m hoping that with further research, we can perhaps be able to figure out additional ways of lowering the effect of these particulates, other than just staying away from traffic because that’s really not doable,” says Morgan.

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