Air Pollution Exposure Triggers Alzheimer’s Risk

Air pollution exposure triggers Alzheimer’s risk and progression of the disease, a new study has found. Even brief increases in exposure to particulate matter PM2.5 air pollution is associated with rising in acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) among young children.


The study carried out by University of Montana researcher Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas and team was published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. It looked at the effects of air pollution in 203 residents of Mexico City where daily ozone and particulate matter levels were above US Environmental Protection Agency standards.

The researchers studied Mexico City residents ranged in age from 11 months to 40 years, in order to measure the levels of two abnormal proteins – hyperphosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid which can cause Alzheimer’s disease. They found that development risk of Alzheimer’s was 99.5 percent among the subjects, including in less-than-a-year-old babies.

Researchers explained that when particulate matter enters the brain through the gastrointestinal tract, nose, and lungs, it increases the risk of Alzheimer’s because the circulatory system transmits that particulate matter throughout the body and damages barriers

“Alzheimer’s disease hallmarks start in childhood in polluted environments, and we must implement effective preventative measures early,” said Dr. Lilian Calderón-Garcidueñas. “It is useless to take reactive actions decades later.”

“Neuroprotection measures ought to start very early, including the prenatal period and childhood. Defining pediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk-factor interactions are key to preventing Alzheimer’s disease.”

Air pollution exposure at a high level is linked to increased risk of lower intelligence-test performance, behavioral problems, and poor memory suggests the Popular Science article.