Research links air pollution and dementia

Australian researchers have established a link between air pollution and an increased risk of developing dementia, a new study shows.

Air pollution has been linked to an increased risk of developing dementia later in life, Australian researchers have found.

A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease on Wednesday shows rates of dementia were more likely when people were exposed over a long period of time to two air pollutants.

The two pollutants are ‘particulate matter 2.5’ and ‘nitrous oxide’, which are both commonly found in cities around the world.

Study co-author Neuroscience Research Australia’s Dr Ruth Peters said it’s difficult for people to reduce exposure if they live where pollution levels are high.

“This is concerning because the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates 91 per cent of the world’s population lives in places where air quality exceeds WHO guideline limits,” Dr Peters said.

“This research shows that government regulation that reduces our exposure to air pollution has a huge potential health and economic benefit.”‘

Researchers believe air pollutants can increase inflammation in bodies and raise the risk of having a stroke, which increases the likelihood of developing dementia.

Dementia is the second leading cause of death of Australians with 450,000 people living with the condition.

The study brought together research on people living in Canada, Sweden, Taiwan, United Kingdom and the United States.

via Research links air pollution and dementia

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I’ve used a couple of face masks in the past to try and protect myself when cycling to work. The Respro® Cinqro is the first one I’ve actually been able to get on with long term!

Respro® Cinqro Mask Review: Cycling with an air filter

The Respro® Cinqro mask is one of more sports orientated masks from the UK based pollution mask manufacturer. To the degree that the Respro® Cinqro really is aimed not merely at commuters but squarely at athletes for whom their lives are fitted around their coaches orders, not the other way round. Athletes who normally shrug at air pollution warning and will still head out to adhere to their training plans.

Everest-1197-of-3098When it comes to pollution, I’m actually quite lucky. I live right on the edge of a housing estate, coming out to the main road I’ve about 70 meters and then I’m in fields. Now that might sound like a bit of a useless comment, talking about a city pollution mask, but it is designed to highlight that not all use cases of face masks are immediately apparent:

I don’t need a mask to go running myself, but I am aware of friends who have used Respro masks in the past to allow them to go running in the summer whilst minimising the effect of the pollen. You might ask in such cases why not used save some money and buy a simple builders mask? Should filter the same?

The problem there is industrial masks are made for a specific job. Filtering dust and chemicals at a low of exertion. If you add in a run, or a cycle, suddenly design limitations of cheaper masks become apparent. The air inflow in not sufficient nor is the outflow, meaning you are not able to get enough oxygen, nor clear the respired carbon dioxide. You MIGHT not be breathless, but you’ll certainly impact on your training. Hence using a properly designed mask. Or at least trying to

You see I’ve used a couple of “sports masks” in the past from 3M, and then a cheap one from Decathlon, a previous Respro Techno mask, and even a Cambridge Mask Company mask. Each mask got used for a couple of weeks at the most, as they were fatally flawed for me. Early morning I’d cycle to work, and before the end of the first hill, I’d have my glasses steamed up, not able to see a thing. Whilst a filter mask might be good for your long term health, it doesn’t matter if you’ve crashed and died due to the mask is stopping you seeing what is in front of you!!!


Read the full review:


Respro® Cinqro Mask Review: Conclusion

Ok, Respro® masks are not the cheapest on the market, but I would have saved money if I had purchased a Cinqro initially rather than trying to save a little money buying cheaper masks which didn’t work. I think that is going to be my main take away: If you have glasses, and want a cycling filter mask, by a Respro® Cinqro. I don’t think I need much more of a conclusion do I? TG 5/5, and I would recommend

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Read the full review:

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Nonsmokers can get emphysema from air pollution, study finds

Researchers hope that understanding the causes of debilitating lung disease may lead to better prevention and treatment.


Long-term exposure to air pollution was linked to increases in emphysema between 2000 and 2018, according to a study funded by NIEHS and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). The findings appeared Aug. 13 in JAMA.

This study adds evidence linking air pollution and emphysema, a lung disease that gets worse over time.
Emphysema, usually associated with smokers, is a chronic disease in which lung tissue is destroyed and becomes unable to effectively transfer oxygen.

“Air pollution is a significant public health concern around the world,” said Gwen Collman, Ph.D., director of the NIEHS Division of Extramural Research and Training. “It’s been a priority of NIEHS research for many years, so it’s great when we can accelerate our efforts by joining with other NIH [National Institutes of Health] institutes in supporting research on lung disease.”

“These findings may offer one explanation for why emphysema is found in some people who never smoked,” said James Kiley, Ph.D., director of the NHLBI Division of Lung Diseases. “The study’s results, duration, and timing offer insight into the long-term effects of air pollution on the U.S. population.”

A long-running, large-scale study

The study included more than 7,000 men and women from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA). Researchers followed individuals with emphysema, analyzing more than 15,000 computed tomography (CT) scans and lung function tests from 2000 to 2018.

Over the same period, MESA carefully tracked air pollution in the varied metropolitan regions of Winston-Salem, North Carolina; St. Paul, Minnesota; New York City; Baltimore; Chicago; and Los Angeles. The exposure work received support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Clear and consistent associations between long-term exposure to air pollutants and progression of lung disease were found across the six localities.

The combined health effect of multiple air pollutants — ozone, fine particles known as PM2.5, nitrogen oxides, and black carbon — was greater than when the pollutants were assessed individually,” said Bonnie Joubert, Ph.D., a scientific program director at NIEHS. “With the study’s long-running duration, repeated CT scans allowed analysis of changes in emphysema over time.”

Understanding and controlling emphysema

“Rates of chronic lung disease in this country are going up and increasingly it is recognized that this disease occurs in nonsmokers,” said the study’s senior co-author, Joel Kaufman, M.D., from the University of Washington. “We really need to understand what’s causing chronic lung disease, and it appears that air pollution exposures that are common and hard to avoid might be a major contributor.”

People with emphysema have difficulty breathing, along with a persistent cough and phlegm. It makes physical and social activities difficult, creates work hardships, and may result in detrimental emotional conditions. Disease development can be a slow, lifelong process. Although emphysema is not curable, treatments help manage the disease.

CitationWang M, Aaron CP, Madrigano J, Hoffman, EA, Angelini E, Yang, J, Laine A, Vetterli TM, Kinney PL, Sampson PD, Sheppard LE, Szpiro AA, Adar SD, Kirwa K, Smith B, Lederer DJ, Diez-Roux AV, Vedal S, Kaufman JD, Barr RG. 2019. Association between long-term exposure to ambient air pollution and change in quantitatively assessed emphysema and lung function. JAMA 322(6):1–11.

via Environmental Factor – September 2019: Nonsmokers can get emphysema from air pollution, study finds

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Growing up in air-polluted areas linked to mental health issues

Correlation found between poor air quality and disorders including schizophrenia


People who spend their childhood in areas with high levels of air pollution may be more likely to later develop mental disorders, research suggests.

Air pollution has become a matter of growing concern as an increasing number of studies have found links to conditions ranging from asthma to dementia and various types of cancer.

There are also signs it may take a toll on mental health. Research published in January found that children growing up in the more polluted areas of London were more likely to have depression by the age of 18 than those growing up in areas with cleaner air.

But a study by researchers in the US and Denmark has suggested a link between air pollution and an increased risk of mental health problems, including bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and personality disorders.

Between 1% and 2% of the UK population have bipolar disorder in their lifetime, with similar figures for schizophrenia. It is estimated that about 5% of people in the UK have a personality disorder at any one time.

Prof Andrey Rzhetsky, a co-author of the research at the University of Chicago, said the team carried out their work after finding that genetics did not fully explain why some people experienced these conditions and others do not.

Writing in the journal PLOS Biology, Rzhetsky and colleagues explained how they used a rather crude approach when they first examined possible links to air pollution. Insurance data for 151 million individuals collected between 2003 and 2013 was used to explore the rates of particular mental disorders in counties across the US. This was then analysed alongside the average level of air pollution in each county.

The team found the rate for bipolar disorder was 27% higher for counties in the bottom seventh for air quality compared with those in the top seventh (with the best air quality), once factors including age, sex, poverty levels in the county and average income were taken into account. A tentative link was also seen for depression and air pollution.

However, this analysis was based on average air pollution levels over very large areas. What’s more, the rates of psychiatric conditions may not reflect the situation for low-income individuals who may be less likely to have insurance.

The team then looked at air pollution data from Denmark, which was collected on a scale of 1 sq km.

They looked at air pollution exposure for the first 10 years in the life of 1.4 million individuals born and living in the country between 1979 and the end of 2002, as calculated from their home addresses. Levels of 14 pollutants were considered – compared with the 87 considered in the US part of the study – and used to provide a measure of overall air pollution exposure over those years.

The team then explored subsequent diagnoses for bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, personality disorder and depression up to the end of 2016.

Once factors including age, sex and socioeconomic status were considered, the team found that the rate of all four mental disorders were higher among people who had greater exposure to overall air pollution during their childhood.

When participants were split into seven equal-sized groups, based on the air they were exposed to until the age of 10, the researchers found the bottom seventh (who experienced the worst air) had 29%, 148%, 51% and 162% higher rates for bipolar, schizophrenia, depression and personality disorder respectively than the top seventh (who had experienced the cleanest air).

The team suggested a number of explanations for how mental health is affected by air pollution, pointing to animal studies that had proposed one route could be that it triggered inflammation in the respiratory tract that then led to inflammation across the body, including the brain. Another suggestion was that air pollutants travelled from the nose to the brain where they accumulated, causing inflammation and damage.

If the links to mental health disorders are confirmed, they could – somewhat counterintuitively – offer some cause for hope. “Unlike genetic predisposition, environment is something we can change,” said Rzhetsky.

However, the research has limitations: the findings do not prove that air pollution drives the development of these conditions, while the analyses do not take into account the influence of many factors known to affect mental health, including family history of psychiatric problems or bullying.

Dr Ioannis Bakolis, an expert in biostatistics from King’s College London, said the study added to previous evidence of a possible link between air pollution and mental health disorders.

“While causation cannot be proved, this work suggests substantial morbidity from mental disorders could be avoided with improved air quality,” he said.

Bakolis added that there was already plenty of evidence that air pollution can hurt many other aspects of health, adding that measures such as car-free zones in cities should be given attention.

A second study, published in the Journal of Investigative Medicine, has revealed a link between long-term exposure to traffic fumes and age-related macular degeneration (ARMD) – one of the leading causes of vision problems in older people.

The researchers used national health insurance data from 2000 to 2010 for almost 40,000 people aged 50 or older in Taiwan, together with air quality data from 1998 to 2010 centred on the location of the health centre people visited for help with an illness like a cold.

The team found that patients visiting centres in the highest 25% for nitrogen dioxide levels had almost twice the risk of developing ARMD than those who visited centres in the bottom quartile. A similar link was seen for carbon monoxide pollution. However, several other factors including family history of the condition were not considered in the work, while the data might be skewed by people having less chance of a respiratory infection in less polluted areas.

via Growing up in air-polluted areas linked to mental health issues | Society | The Guardian

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Economists Find First Link Between Early Childhood Exposure to Air Pollution and Later-Life Arthritis

pixabay-fog-1535201_960_720-1A recent study by economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has – for the first time – found a link between exposure to air pollution during early childhood with the development of arthritis later in adult life.

Jamie Mullins, assistant professor in the department of resource economics at UMass Amherst, found that those who were exposed to the 1952 Great Smog of London during their first year of life had a 23.4 percentage point higher incidence of arthritis later in life than those not exposed as infants by virtue of their birth dates and/or the locations of their residence in early life. This increase represents a doubling of the arthritis rate among the exposed population. The higher arthritis rates among those exposed to the Smog in the first year of life are clearest for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) – a 14.9 percentage increase – versus osteoarthritis, which saw a 9.5 percentage point increase.

“These findings are important today, as millions of people continue to be exposed to episodes of extreme air pollution each year. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that 91% of the world’s population lives in areas that experience unhealthy levels of air pollution,” Mullins says.

The report, “Arthritis diagnosis and early-life exposure to air pollution,” was co-authored with Andrew Shepherd, a 2018 UMass Amherst resource economics master’s degree recipient, and was published in the journal Environmental Pollution. The study is one of the first to link early life exposure to air pollution with medical conditions much later in life and the first to do so for arthritis, which is estimated to afflict 54.4 million American adults – nearly 23% of the adult population.

Air pollution is currently implicated in some 7 million deaths per year, but such tallies only take account of deaths from issues related to the respiratory and circulatory systems. According to Mullins, their new results “show that a wider set of physiological systems are harmed by air pollution exposure than is generally considered. This suggests that many more health issues and deaths are likely impacted by air pollution than are currently accounted for.”

The Smog that blanketed London from December 5-9, 1952, was caused by an unexpected temperature inversion, which trapped emissions from the city’s coal-burning heating stoves and diesel-powered buses near ground-level. The resulting ambient pollution mixed with moisture to form a thick, foul-smelling fog that disrupted life in the city and ultimately led to as many as 12,000 deaths in the four months following the event.

The authors interpret their results as causal effects of the Smog, saying that “estimates are identified through the difference in outcomes between groups that are effectively randomly determined by time and place of birth,” and that “any plausible alternative explanation for our results would need to have impacted only London, contemporaneous (or nearly so) to the Smog, and drive higher incidences of arthritis, and especially of RA. We are unable to identify any candidate factors or events that meet these criteria.”

The researchers fear that their results imply that the health effects of poor air quality have likely been dramatically underestimated because such effects continue manifesting for decades after exposure and extend beyond cardiopulmonary issues.

“While the pollution mixture of the Great Smog differs from the pollution mixtures of other places and times, the continued combustion of coal and diesel globally suggests parallels are likely to exist between the Great Smog and today’s worst pollution events,” they conclude. “More work is needed to map the mechanisms through which air pollution taxes health over both the short and long terms in order for the full costs of pollution to be better understood and addressed. We hope that the findings of this article will contribute to more complete assessments of the costs of air pollution and potentially aid medical clinicians and researchers seeking to understand, diagnose, and treat arthritic diseases.”

The complete report, “Arthritis diagnosis and early-life exposure to air pollution,” is available via ScienceDirect.

via Economists Find First Link Between Early Childhood Exposure to Air Pollution and Later-Life Arthritis –

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Air pollution means pregnant women can’t breathe easy Recent studies in the United States and elsewhere have shown correlations between particulate matter in the air and high blood pressure in mothers and babies, gestational diabetes (an increase in blood sugar that affects pregnant women), and high blood pressure in children who were exposed to pollution in the womb.

Air pollution ages your lungs and increases your risk of COPD, study says  Air pollution does a lot more damage to our lungs than scientists realized, according to a new study in Monday’s European Respiratory Journal. Researchers found it ages lungs more quickly and putting us at higher risk of COPD.Your lung function declines as a part of natural aging, but this study found that exposure to particulate matter pollution ages your lungs even faster — and the more pollution you’re exposed to, the quicker your lungs age.

Air pollution ‘may affect number of eggs ovaries can produce’ Results suggest environmental factors could play a role in female reproductive health

Posted in Air Quality

NASA detects huge carbon monoxide plume from Amazon rainforests

Carbon monoxide is a pollutant that can persist in the atmosphere for about a month and has implications for both air pollution and climate change

nasaNASA has detected a giant plume of carbon monoxide from fires in the Amazon rainforest.

New data from its Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) technology, aboard the Aqua satellite, shows movement in the atmosphere of carbon monoxide associated with fires in the Amazon region of Brazil from 8th August to 22nd August 2019.

Fires have been raging across the world’s largest tropical rainforest, one of the most important carbon sinks.

Carbon monoxide is a pollutant that can be transported large distances and persist in the atmosphere for about a month and has implications both for air pollution and climate change.

NASA’s time series maps carbon monoxide at an altitude of 18,000 feet and shows the plume growing in the northwest Amazon region, before drifting in a “more concentrated plume” towards the southeastern part of the country.

It says while the gas has little effect on the air people breathe at the high altitude mapped in the images, strong winds can carry it downward to where it can significantly impact air quality.

Green in the image indicates concentrations of carbon monoxide at approximately 100 parts per billion by volume (ppbv), yellow at around 120ppbv and dark red at 160ppbv but NASA notes the local values can be significantly higher.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to provide £10 million towards helping the Amazon rainforest following the recent surge in fires.

via NASA detects huge carbon monoxide plume from Amazon rainforests – Energy Live News

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Pollutionwatch: how LA beat the ‘blight on the land of sunshine’

Decades before a Greenpeace warning on smog in Asia, LA found a novel way to tackle the problem3001Many Asian cities are facing new air pollution challenges and are struggling to stem smog emergencies. According to a recent study by Greenpeace, 22 of the world’s 30 most polluted cities are in India.

In 1954, Los Angeles became one of the first cities to address smog, described by one local newspaper as a “blight on the land of sunshine”. Fearing an event similar to the Great Smog of London in 1952, which killed more than 4,000 people, authorities in the Californian city devised an emergency plan.

While modern-day air pollution warnings in the UK advise vulnerable people to protect themselves, decades earlier LA installed a system to quickly shut local pollution sources if one of its frequent eye-stinging smogs spiralled out of control.

Monitoring stations were constructed and, in an age before the internet, scientists telephoned their results to a control centre every hour. Alerts were then sent through teleprinters in the sheriff’s office, as well as press wires and dedicated radios in the city’s factories.

The new Sigalert system was employed too, which left a recorded message in each radio and television station and, just like the Batphone, activated a light and buzzer to notify broadcasters to interrupt programming. Meanwhile, industries would lower boilers and activate carpooling schemes, while residents were asked to drive less and stop burning rubbish. Nightly weather forecasts used a red/green smog warning system, leading to the myth that LA had multicoloured smog.

via Pollutionwatch: how LA beat the ‘blight on the land of sunshine’ | Environment | The Guardian

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