SEP 24, 2018 01:55 PM PDT

Is air pollution linked to dementia?

To add another horrible link to air pollution, welcome dementia! Already known to be a risk factor for heart disease/stroke and respiratory disease, air pollution is now being tied to dementia as well, according to new research published in BMJ Open. Though the new research is only an observational study and cannot outrightly establish cause, the numbers are quite convincing. Take a look.

The researchers behind the study focused on the area of Greater London to determine the connection between ambient air quality and new dementia diagnoses. Using data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink (CPRD), which goes back to 1987, the team of scientists analyzed almost 131,000 patients. These patients, aged 50 to 79 in 2004, had not been previously diagnosed with dementia and lived in varying residential areas within the London orbital M25 motorway.

This part is key, because based on peoples’ residencies, the researchers were able to estimate how much air pollution each individual would likely be exposed to on a yearly basis. The types of air pollution that they estimated for individuals’ exposure included nitrogen dioxide (NO2), fine particulate matter (PM2.5), and ozone (O3), among others.

The researchers tracked these patients’ health over 7 years, or, in some cases, until a diagnosis of dementia, death, or deregistration from the practice. During the time, they found that 2181 patients (1.7%) were diagnosed with dementia (which includes Alzheimer's disease).

The link here comes with the discovery that in a significant number of cases, dementia diagnoses were associated with ambient levels of NO2 and PM2.5 – i.e. air pollution. In fact, people who lived in residencies where NO2 levels were in the top fifth had a 40% higher chance of a dementia diagnosis than those who lived in areas with NO2 levels in the bottom fifth. That’s pretty significant if you ask me.

Nevertheless, the researchers are hesitant to extrapolate meaning beyond the limited scope of this study. Though seven years sounds like a long time, many longer-term studies would be needed in many different places in order to establish cause between air pollution and dementia. So, for the time being, just try to breathe some fresh air.

Sources: Science Daily, BMJ Open

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
"The Blob" is Back
Five years ago, a phenomenon dubbed “the blob” caused turmoil along the West Coast of the Pacific Ocean. No, it wasn’t an invader from sp...
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
Changing the way we grow our food
Have you heard of agrivoltaics? Well, if you haven’t, listen up, because it’s the way of the future. Agrivoltaics refers to the intentional pla...
NOV 12, 2019
Microbiology
NOV 12, 2019
Antibiotic Resistance Rises in Wild Dolphins
Antibiotic resistant bacteria are considered a major threat to public health, which is expected to get more serious....
NOV 12, 2019
Earth & The Environment
NOV 12, 2019
Attn: STOP WITH THE DELICATE CYCLE!
It’s more than likely that you’ve heard of plastic microfibers and the dangers that they pose to our oceans, air, and earth. But did you know t...
NOV 12, 2019
Plants & Animals
NOV 12, 2019
Social Bonding in Female Vampire Bats Works in Strange Ways
Animals can be tricky to understand because they can’t speak to us in a form of communication that we can easily comprehend. But this obstacle hasn&r...
NOV 12, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
NOV 12, 2019
Scientists Bolstered Water-based Hydrogen Production with a 10-Dollar Magnet
Hydrogen is dubbed the clean energy of the future because its consumption leads to no carbon emission but only water. But things are not always what they s...
Loading Comments...