USC led study suggests PM 2.5 pollution leads to greater risk of dementia among older women.

March 1, 2017

Tiny particles that pollute the air — the kind that come mainly from power plants, automobiles and diesel engines — may greatly increase the chance of dementia, including dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, according to University of Southern California led research report by USC News on January 31, 2017.

The offending pollutants — known as PM2.5 — are fine, inhalable particles with diameters 2.5 micrometers or smaller, or about thirty times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.

Scientists and engineers found that older women who live in places with fine particulate matter exceeding the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s standard are 81 percent more at risk for global cognitive decline and 92 percent more likely to develop dementia, including Alzheimer’s.

If their findings hold up in the general population, air pollution could be responsible for about 21 percent of dementia cases, according to the study.

“Microscopic particles generated by fossil fuels get into our body directly through the nose into the brain,” said University Professor Caleb Finch at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and co-senior author of the study. “Cells in the brain treat these particles as invaders and react with inflammatory responses, which over the course of time, appear to exacerbate and promote Alzheimer’s disease.

“Although the link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease is a new scientific frontier, we now have evidence that air pollution, like tobacco, is dangerous to the aging brain.”
The adverse effects were stronger in women who had the APOE4 gene, a genetic variation that increases the risk for Alzheimer’s.

“Our study — the first of its kind conducted in the U.S. — provides the inaugural scientific evidence of a critical Alzheimer’s risk gene possibly interacting with air particles to accelerate brain aging,” said Jiu-Chiuan Chen, co-senior author of the study and an associate professor of preventive medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

“The experimental data showed that exposure of mice to air particles collected on the edge of USC damaged neurons in the hippocampus, the memory center that is vulnerable to both brain aging and Alzheimer’s disease.”

Their study, published Jan. 31 in the Nature journal Translational Psychiatry, adds to an emerging body of research from around the world that links air pollution to dementia.

The research was a collaboration between USC Davis, the Keck School of Medicine and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering.

What this means to you
PM 2.5 particles may greatly increase the chance of dementia, including dementia caused by Alzheimer’s disease, according to University of Southern California led research project.

MIRATECH can help
Contact MIRATECH for help reducing particulate matter emissions from your stationary engines.