High Air Pollution May Cause Cognitive Decline

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cognitive decline
Image: Image by TF3000 from Pixabay

Recently, a new study, whose findings appear in the journal The Lancet Planetary Health, shows that high levels of pollution in the air can lead to an increase in the rate of cognitive decline which may cause neurodegenerative health conditions such as forms of dementia including Alzheimer’s disease at an early age.

Prior to this study, existent research has indicated that there are multiple effects of air pollution on the health of a person.

Smog, in particular, has been linked with infections and high levels of inflammation in the lungs, skin disorders, heart-related conditions, and other diseases. In addition, some studies have also made connections of smog with a decline in cognition.

Now, new research conducted by researchers from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health, and, Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health adds to this medical literature by documenting the effects of pollution for an extensive period of time.

More specifically, the scientists looked at over sixty million adults and monitored the impact of smog on their health from the year 2000 to 2017. During this time period, they examined factors such as exposure to different levels of pollution and an increase in hospitalizations for diseases associated with smog including neurodegenerative issues.

After studying the impact of pollution on the risk of developing neurological disorders, the scientists discovered that even with air pollution levels below than safe level standards which are set by the Environmental Protection Agency, people still have an increased risk of experiencing cognitive decline.

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The results remained even after ruling out for factors such as age, socio-economic class, race, and ethnicity of the participants.

The findings of the study show that the current standards for air pollution may need a revision as they still seem to be harming and not really safeguarding the health of older adults, which are a major part of the population.

Although the results highlight a big concern that can affect a big number of people, scientists say there is a need for further investigation as the scientists also need to examine other factors including smoking habits and the general health of the participants.

Both of these factors can add and greatly elevate the risk of having cognitive decline and developing neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disorder.

In addition to the research, it should also be noted that wildfires are increasing the levels of pollution in the air. So, the exposure may be even higher in some of the states where people are exposed to the toxicity of the smoke.

Therefore, experts are suggesting people stay inside to avoid getting exposed to the toxic air. Whenever going out, wear a face-covering especially in open public spaces.

Wearing any kind of face mask will not only protect from pollution and related health conditions but will also significantly lower the risk of contracting the coronavirus. So, try to wear a mask and minimize time spent outside as it can protect from multiple diseases.

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