How does air pollution affect health? Reducing the risk of dementia should be part of clean air strategies
The study found that action should be taken to reduce exposure to pollution, incorporating brain health into net zero strategies.
Here are the key details.
What does the evidence say?
The research has been going on for 20 years. It began with the discovery of brain changes in domestic dogs in heavily polluted Mexico City and showed that these changes can occur in young puppies.
Evidence has accumulated over the past five years. For example, a study from Spain found that air pollution can affect children’s brain development and ability to perform tests.
Then, when research was conducted on 1,700 Londoners, it was found that those exposed to air pollution were more likely to have mental health problems.
Speak with the guardProfessor Frank Kelly of Imperial College London, former Chair of the UK Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution, said: “Dementia is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, global health and social care challenge of the 21st century”. The finding that air pollution could accelerate cognitive decline and contribute to the development of dementia came as a surprise when such a link was first postulated.
“Logic suggested that air pollution would affect our lungs, and then research found that poor air quality also affects circulatory diseases. It wasn’t long before researchers were asking if other organs like the brain were also affected.”
Last year, Kelly’s committee, which reports to the Department of Health and Human Services, reviewed 69 studies and concluded that air pollution likely increases cognitive decline in older people and increases their risk of developing dementia.
The air pollution that people breathe in every day is believed to slowly accumulate in the brain.
What needs to be done to address the problem?
The report called for a review of current policies to accelerate action that reduces our exposure to air pollution throughout our lives. This includes low-emission school zones and the development of dementia-friendly communities. It has also been suggested that health, and brain health in particular, should be part of net zero strategies.
Professor Brian Castellani of the University of Durham, who led the report, told the Guardian: “A big step is improving urban living, for example through road congestion, green spaces, indoor air quality, ultra-low emission zones, cycling and walking.” lanes; and tackling health and economic inequalities.
“We also need policies that recognize that even legal air pollution limits can be harmful and potentially worsen the situation of people suffering from dementia, neurodegenerative diseases or early childhood brain health problems.”
https://www.standard.co.uk/news/air-pollution-health-effects-dementia-risk-b1082319.html How does air pollution affect health? Reducing the risk of dementia should be part of clean air strategies