The turn of the millennium brought the world with more advanced scientific discoveries and breakthroughs than ever. At the same, it also carried major climate changes along with it, like air pollution that, according to studies, may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia.
We are long aware that smog is bad for our respiratory health. Its pollutant called ozone, a colorless and odorless gas, is harmful when inhaled by people as it may cause asthma attacks, lung damage, throat or chest irritation, coughs, and difficulty in breathing.
However, recent studies showed proofs that the effects of smog go beyond the respiratory system as they found it can potentially impact the person’s brain too. This leads to cognitive aging and the development of neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Smog May Cause Cognitive Deterioration
Various studies were conducted to give us a better understanding of the effects of smog on our brains. Most of them showed that it could really impact our mental health, especially for those living in the urban areas.
One study revealed that the ultrafine air pollutant particles (called PM2.5) become more damaging the smaller they are. It was conducted in places where air pollutants are higher than normal levels, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) standard safety level.
Older women were the main subjects of the 11-year epidemiological study of researchers from the University of South Carolina (USC). Their findings showed smog exposure increases the risk for dementia. This might show that 21 percent of dementia cases in the world can be linked to air pollution if the study will be conducted with a bigger group.
There are also other studies that back up this finding. A separate research revealed that mice that were exposed to aerosol pollutants were observed to have memory loss, Alzheimer’s disease symptoms and brain damage signs.
Researchers from the University of Toronto also found residents living at least 50 meters from the area with high levels of air pollution showed higher risk of developing neurological diseases. The high exposure suggested around 12 percent of the residents is more likely to develop mental health deterioration.
Additionally, aging dogs living in the polluted areas in Mexico City were observed by the neuroscientist Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas. Her studies showed the dogs were showing signs of disorientation and they could not recognize their owners. When they died, their brains were seen to have plaques that are often found in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Still, further studies are needed to be done in order to prove that air pollution can affect a person’s neurological abilities and health, such as developing Alzheimer’s disease. What matters for now is how these studies have tried to explore the possibilities and make people more aware of the harmful effects smog can cause to humans.