Study: New evidence shows link between air pollution, Alzheimer’s disease

Air pollution has been known to have negative effects on health, and there’s new data showing that a decrease in pollution could benefit those at risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

The study, released by the Alzheimer’s Association, followed two groups of at-risk adults, one in Europe and the other in the U.S., over a 10-year period.

Dr. Heather Snyder, the vice president of Medical and Scientific Relations at the association, said that those in Europe who were in less-polluted areas saw a decrease in risk by 15% for dementia and 17% for Alzheimer’s disease.

Women in the U.S. who participated in the study saw a decrease in risk of developing dementia by 26%, with a reduction in certain categories of pollution, including traffic-related pollution.

Long-term exposure to air pollution was associated with a possible biological connection to physical brain changes that result in Alzheimer’s disease.

“When you actually modify or change air pollution, decrease it, there actually also seems to be a benefit on cognition in a population that are aging,” Snyder said. “I think these data demonstrate the importance of policies and action by federal, state and local governments to address reducing air pollution.”

Snyder said it’s important for those with loved ones battling the disease to take advantage of community resources in order to see better outcomes overall.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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