Air Pollution may be increasing your risk of developing Alzheimer’s

September 28, 2020

Other consequences can include MS, Parkinson’s, and other dementia

In January, a small team of Canadian researchers released a study on the relationship between air pollution and formalized cognitive dilapidation, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Over 678,000 Vancouver citizens between the ages of 45-84 were analyzed by their residency and behaviors during 1994-2003. In this decade, Vancouver had a significant exposure period to air pollution. Because of Vancouver’s provincial health insurance plan, nearly every resident has readily available health data for researchers to use.

Results found that residents who lived within 50 meters of a major road or 150 meters from a highway were 20% more likely to develop Alzheimer’s. Further investigation found more consequences of roadway proximity such as a 25% likelihood of developing multiple sclerosis or a 7% increase for Parkinson’s. This isn’t the first time researchers have discovered the detrimental effects of air pollution. A study performed on Germany’s older population found that “most air pollutants are associated with Mild Cognitive Impairment” and another study in the United States found a relationship between air pollution and strokes.

Through this study and many others on the consequences of air pollution, we are able to discover a common theme among them: transportation. Roadway construction overlooks the indirect health consequences that it delivers to neighboring communities. Creating high traffic patterns bordering residential areas forces people to inhale toxic fumes. Traditionally, these are underserved communities with low-income housing, therefore, the developments lack protective infrastructure and are at higher risk. Although the solution of exercising intention and forethought present themselves, a deeper culprit the Canadian researchers allude to is internal combustion vehicles. If we decrease the amount of pollutants released into the air from our internal-combustion vehicles, we would see an increase in health in communities closest to roadways. Using alternative fuels will dramatically reduce air pollution in urban areas and save the lives of those who are forced to live near a major roadway.