Dementia is not a single disease; it’s a term used for a wide range of medical conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease. Disorders grouped under the general term ‘Dementia’ are caused by abnormal brain changes. These changes trigger a decline in thinking skills, also known as cognitive abilities, severe enough to impair daily life and independent function. They also affect behavior, feelings, and relationships.
"We found that an increase of 1 microgram per cubic meter of exposure contributed to a 16% greater risk of dementia," said lead author Rachel Shaffer. "There was a similar association for Alzheimer's-type dementia." Shaffer did the research as a doctoral student in the University of Washington's Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences.
A minor increase in levels of fine particle pollution in specific neighborhoods was associated with a greater risk of dementia for residents, according to findings published recently.
How we've understood the role of air pollution exposure on health has evolved from first thinking it was pretty much limited to respiratory problems, then that it also has cardiovascular effects, and now there's evidence of its effects on the brain," said senior author Lianne Sheppard, a professor in UW's Departments of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences and Biostatistics.
These data can support further procedures on the local and national levels to control sources of particulate air pollution.