A new study has found that long-term exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of developing dementia. The research, which was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington, suggests that even relatively low levels of air pollution could be detrimental to brain health.
The study, which was published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, analyzed data from over 4,000 participants in the Adult Changes in Thought study, a long-term research project investigating the risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. The researchers used data from air quality monitors to estimate each participant’s exposure to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) over a period of 10 years.
What did the study show?
The results of the study showed that participants who had higher levels of exposure to PM2.5 and NO2 had a higher risk of developing dementia. The researchers found that for every 1 μg/m3 increase in PM2.5 exposure, the risk of dementia increased by 16%. Similarly, for every 10 ppb increase in NO2 exposure, the risk of dementia increased by 14%.
The study also found that exposure to air pollution was associated with changes in brain structure and function, including reduced white matter volume and decreased connectivity in the brain’s default mode network. These changes have been linked to cognitive decline and an increased risk of dementia.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Rachel Shaffer, commented on the findings, saying, “This study provides further evidence that air pollution may be a risk factor for dementia. We found that even relatively low levels of air pollution can have a significant impact on brain health, and this has important implications for public health policy and the regulation of air pollution.”
Air pollution is a growing concern for public health, with millions of people around the world exposed to high levels of pollution on a daily basis. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to a range of health problems, including respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, and there is mounting evidence that it may also be linked to cognitive decline and dementia.
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What is the best measure to cause a minimum effect?
In response to the study, experts have called for increased efforts to reduce air pollution levels, particularly in urban areas where pollution is often highest. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that air pollution is responsible for 7 million premature deaths each year, making it one of the leading causes of death worldwide.
Dr. Maria Neira, Director of the Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health at the WHO, said, “This study adds to the growing body of evidence linking air pollution to a range of health problems, including dementia. We urgently need to take action to reduce air pollution levels and protect the health of our communities.”
In conclusion, the new study provides further evidence that air pollution may increase the risk of developing dementia. The findings have important implications for public health policy and the regulation of air pollution, and experts have called for increased efforts to reduce pollution levels and protect the health of communities around the world.