Air pollution is impacting the health of our lungs, our hearts, and maybe even our brains.
New research suggests children and young adults growing up in Mexico City – an urban centre with a major air pollution problem – may already show growths, plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and motor neurone disease (MND).
Whether or not these markers of damage actually cause neurological disease later in life is still unclear. While tangles and plaques can accumulate in the brains of those with Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, more research is needed to figure out what role these markers play, and how they interact with disease progression.
With 90 percent of the world’s children breathing unsafe air, researchers say it’s critical we find out more. If fine particulate matter from air pollution is a trigger for neurological disease, we need to know now.
“Different people will have different levels of vulnerability to such particulate exposure,” says Lancaster University environmental scientist Barbara Maher, “but our new findings indicate that what air pollutants you are exposed to, what you are inhaling and swallowing, are really significant in development of neurological damage.”
Earlier this year, scientists warned air pollution was causing a ‘silent pandemic‘ the world over, leading to high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, heart attacks and heart failure at a rate even more deadly than war, violence and many diseases.
Now, there’s potential for a pandemic of neurological diseases as well. Accumulating evidence from China, the United Kingdom and the United States suggests air pollution levels are somehow tied to cognitive impairment, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.
While that doesn’t mean air pollution is causing cognitive decline, previous research among Mexico City residents found metal nanoparticles from air pollution can pass into the brain, offering a route for damage.
The new study supports that discovery. Examining
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