We know air pollution pollutes plants, flowers, animals, and the whole environment. But now, we a facing a much severer question:
Can air pollution pollute our brain?
According to the new findings published in Brain, the answer may be “Yes.”
PM2.5 leads to memory decline and Alzheimer's
When it comes to toxicity of the pollution, size of the pollutants matters. PM2.5 particles coming from dust, smoke, and traffic exhaust are about 1/30th the width of a human hair. They are so tiny that they can get inside buildings and easily be inhaled by people. The, PM2.5 particles will reach and affect the brain.
Previous studies showed that PM2.5 pollution is associated with asthma, heart disease, lung disease and premature death.
In the latest study, the researchers studied the data from 998 women aged 73 to 87, including the results of their brain scans and environmental data of the location they live.
After combining all the information and taking other factors into account, the researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 can harm the brain, leading to greater declines in memory and increasing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia.
"This is the first study to really show, in a statistical model, that air pollution was associated with changes in people's brains and that those changes were then connected with declines in memory performance," said Andrew Petkus.
Alzheimer's is the six-leading cause of death in the U.S., and currently it cannot be cured. The finding suggests that a good living environment is essential to one’s brain health. You may want to choose a city with clean air as your home.
In addition, the study gets us one step closer to understanding the Alzheimer's. If scientists can understand this disease better, they are more likely to solve the Alzheimer's disease epidemic.