The impact of air pollution on brain health has been an active area of research over recent decades. A new report from the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants, a UK Government advisory group, has determined it is likely air pollution contributes to an increased risk for developing dementia in later life.
Bringing together the results of over 70 individual research studies, the report concludes that that air pollution can contribute to a decline in memory and thinking abilities, and an increased risk of developing the brain diseases that lead to dementia. The authors state that the damage is most likely caused by air pollution particles entering the bloodstream and interrupting the blood supply to the brain.
While the climate emergency has highlighted the role we all have to play in reducing emissions, to achieve meaningful progress individual actions alone will not be enough. It is essential coordinated action is taken at national and governmental levels to protect the air we breathe.
"It is now increasingly clear that air pollution impacts brain health and increases risk of dementia. Our research shows that in Scotland, 1 in 2 people feel they are exposed to air pollution every week, and those in areas of multiple deprivation feel they encounter air pollution on a daily basis. Taking personal steps to reduce pollution and seek clean air is critically important, but of all the steps we can take to protect our brain health, this is the one that most requires collective action. This must be tackled at a national level by those who can lead societal change.”
- Anna Borthwick, Executive Lead for Brain Health Scotland.
Find out more about this area of research (including an intriguing origin story featuring exhaust fumes, the streets of Mexico City and a group of stray dogs!) in this brilliant blog from Dementia Science Explained:
For everything you ned to know about air pollution visit the excellent Clean Air Hub from Global Action Plan: