Air pollution a Substantial Factor Contributing to Dementia

Air Pollution

Recent research conducted in Atlanta, Georgia, suggests that exposure to traffic-related air pollution, particularly fine particulate matter, may play a significant role in causing severe forms of dementia. The study indicates that this exposure could be a significant cause of dementia, even in individuals who are not genetically predisposed to the condition.

Led by a team from Emory University in Atlanta, the research focused on the effects of fine particulate matter, referred to as PM2.5, which comprises particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter. This type of pollution, commonly found near busy roads, has been associated with the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The study analyzed brain tissue from 224 individuals, 90% of whom had been diagnosed with dementia, with a specific emphasis on those residing in areas with elevated concentrations of traffic-related air pollution. The findings revealed a positive correlation between exposure to high levels of PM2.5 and the presence of amyloid plaques in the subjects’ brains.

Individuals with heightened exposure to PM2.5 were nearly twice as likely to have elevated levels of plaques in the year leading up to their death, while those with increased exposure in the three years prior were 87% more likely to demonstrate higher plaque levels. Notably, the research also indicated that the link between air pollution and the severity of Alzheimer’s was more pronounced in individuals lacking the ApoE4 gene variant. This suggests that environmental factors like air pollution could contribute to the risk of Alzheimer’s, particularly in individuals without a significant genetic predisposition.

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