How Long-term Exposure to Air Pollution Increases Risk of Dementia

Long-term Exposure to Air Pollution Increases Risk of Dementia

Recently published research in the journal JAMA of Neurology has found that long-term exposure to air pollution results in an increased risk of dementia. 

Following 364 individuals for 11 years, aged 74 and older, living in central Stockholm Sweden, the research suggests that dementia may become a major issue as more of the population moves to highly polluted areas,

by 2050, 68% of the global population is expected to live in urban areas where they are continuously exposed to air pollution. Together with an ageing population, this poses a global challenge when it comes to preventive strategies for dementia. 

Reviewing yearly pollution levels in residential areas, the researchers found that, 

long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2), was associated with a higher risk of dementia. Heart failure and heart disease were also found to enhance the association between air pollution and dementia. 

Although the cause of this is not known, it is thought that ultrafine particles, from air pollution, enter the brain causing inflammation and damage the blood-brain barrier,  

"air pollution is an established risk factor for cardiovascular health and because cardiovascular disease accelerates cognitive decline, we believe exposure to air pollution might negatively affect cognition indirectly."

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Citation: Neill, Pippa. “Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution Increases Risk of Dementia.” Air Quality News, 31 Mar. 2020,