Particles in traffic can increase the risk

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Air pollution related to traffic can have negative effects on cognitive health. Image Parade/Getty Images
  • One in 10 Americans age 65 and older is estimated to have dementia.
  • One of the 12 modifiable risk factors for dementia is air pollution.
  • Researchers from Western University, London, Ontario, Canada found that higher exposure to particles in traffic-related air pollution increases a person’s dementia risk.
  • Researchers say that a person’s risk of dementia increases by 3% for every microgram per day. cubic meters of fine particles they were exposed to.

According to recent research, one in 10 Americans People aged 65 and older have dementia – a group of diseases that impair the way the brain works.

Although there is no cure for dementia, researchers have identified 12 modifiable risk factors that can help lower a person’s risk of dementia.

One of these risk factors is air pollution. Previous research links exposure to air pollution to increased risk of hospitalization for dementia. And another study found exposure to high levels of air pollution increased risk of older women of dementia by over 90%.

Now, this research adds to a new study from a team at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada, which found that higher exposure to particles in traffic-related air pollution is associated with an increased risk of dementia. Researchers found that a person’s risk of dementia increased by 3% for every microgram per day. cubic meters of fine particles they were exposed to.

This study was recently published in Neurologythe medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

This is shown by the latest statistics 99% of the world’s population live in an area that does not meet the organization’s air quality guidelines, making air pollution one of the biggest environmental health risks.

Particulate pollution – also called particle pollution – is a form of air pollution that consists of extremely small pieces of solid particles mixed with liquid droplets. These solid particles can include dust, dirt, smoke or soot, which are large enough to see, but it is the very fine particles, smaller than 2.5 micrometers, that are of most concern to scientists. This is because they can penetrate deeply into the lungs and passes into the bloodstream. These tiny particles are about 30 times smaller than a human hair.

Particulate pollution comes from a variety of sources, including:

  • transport vehicles
  • industrial factories
  • forest fire
  • coal burning
  • construction sites
  • agricultural processes

“Fine particles are not a homogeneous entity – they are mainly composed of inorganic ions, metals and organic matter,” explained Dr. Ehsan Abolhasani, lead author of this study, is a researcher in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University and a former graduate student. research assistant in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.

“It can also carry other viruses and dangerous molecules into the human body,” he said.

Because of its small size, Dr. Abolhasani that PM2.5 can escape immune cells in the lungs, spread into the bloodstream and cross the brain’s barriers.

“In the brain it can cause reactions such as inflammation and can have toxic effects on cells, leading to neuron death. In addition, PM2.5 is associated cardiovascular diseasewhich can also contribute to (the risk of) dementia,” he said Medical News Today.

An investigation earlier this year found that air pollution was to blame 9 million premature deaths in 2015.

Dr. Abolhasani said there have been several studies showing a link between air pollution and the incidence of dementia, but sometimes with conflicting results.

“Therefore, we decided to evaluate all available studies on such an association and draw a conclusion on the association between (the incidence of) dementia and chronic exposure to traffic-related air pollutants, especially fine particles,” he said.

For this study, researchers evaluated data from 17 studies that examined a link between air pollution and dementia risk. The participants in all studies were over 40 years of age. Of the more than 91 million participants the researchers assessed across the 17 studies, 5.5 million, or 6%, developed dementia.

All studies exploring the relationship between fine air pollution (PM2.5) adjusted for other factors associated with dementia, such as age, sex, smoking and alcohol. Most of the research adjusted for education level, weight and physical activity level.

Globally, people are living in poverty more likely to live in more polluted areas, although this relationship is not as clear in European studies. Most of the studies included in this meta-analysis adjusted for some measure of poverty, such as income or Medicaid eligibility.

The research team also found that the participants who did not develop dementia had a lower average daily exposure to fine particles. In addition, the team found for each one microgram per cubic meter (µg/m3) increase in exposure to fine particles, a person’s dementia risk increased by 3%.

“The overall risk increase of 3% is clinically important, as the recommended safe exposure level is approximately 10 to 12 μg/m3,” explained Dr. Abolhasani.

“A number of studies in Asia, India and Africa have reported average exposures ranging from 29 to 42 μg/m3. Although we cannot determine a precise safe level of exposure to prevent dementia, we should consider ways to reduce traffic-related air pollution in urban areas to reduce the risk of dementia.”
— Dr. Ehsan Abolhasani

Regarding the next steps in this research, Dr. Janet Martin, a member of the research team, said they planned to further evaluate global dementia trends to discover if there is a link between effective policies to reduce air pollutants and downward trends in new cases of dementia.

Dr. Martin is Associate Professor in the Department of Anesthesia and Perioperative Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University, London, Ontario, Canada.

“Based on this evidence, we plan to advocate for policies that meaningfully reduce the risk of dementia for our generation and generations to come. Without a clear plan of action, dementia will only become a bigger problem,” she said MNT.

“If ambient exposure to higher concentrations of fine particles is a risk factor for dementia, this provides a discrete, actionable focal point for efforts at national and global levels to find ways to reduce PM2.5 to safer levels, while supporting healthy growth and innovation across all countries.”
— Dr. Janet Martin

“With this knowledge, we now need to examine what policies work best to contain PM2.5 levels below safe thresholds while still supporting healthy urban communities full of opportunities for growth and innovation,” added Dr. Martin.

Medical News Today also spoke with Dr. Scott Kaiser, a geriatrician and director of Geriatric Cognitive Health for the Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, about this research.

He said there are many ways air pollution can drive dementia risk, including causing inflammation in the brain and nervous system, oxidative stress and damaging effects on the lungs and heart.

“And underneath it all, we know that air pollution increases the risk of heart disease and stroke and vascular damage in the brain. And we know that the underlying vascular pathology, along with neurodegeneration, also drives the risk of dementia,” he continued.

Since air pollution is a modifiable risk for dementia, Dr. Kaiser that there are some protective measures that people can take. For example, he suggested not exercising in high-traffic areas or when air quality is low.

“There are air boards that provide air quality ratings, and even in your weather app (on your phone) [where] you can see information about particulates and air quality,” he explained.

“(Be) especially aware when there are many particles in the air and when the air quality is poor, to follow these warnings and not exercise outdoors when it is unsafe [to] exercise outdoors … could go a long way.”
— Dr. Scott Kaiser

Dr. Kaiser said this study points to what we can do collectively to create and advocate for cleaner air.

“There’s still a lot more to be done in terms of understanding the pathways by which air pollution increases this risk, but also what we can do about it, what we need to do to create brain-healthier environments. And that’s exciting to think about a whole generation of work that can illuminate that way forward,” he said.

Particles in traffic can increase the risk

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