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People who breathe in large amounts of airborne particulates, such as diesel fumes or other traffic-related air pollutants, are more likely to develop symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in their brains, a new study suggests. It shows the relationship between air pollution and cognitive decline.

The study was published this week in the journal NeurologyResearchers have investigated the relationship between the level of local air pollution and the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease in the human brain. They found that there are people who are exposed to high levels of air pollution, also known as PM2.5. They are more likely to be exposed to high levels at least one year before they die boards – Abnormal protein fragments build up between nerve cells, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s in brain tissue. The study found a strong connection between pollution and symptoms of the disease in people who were not previously exposed to Alzheimer’s disease.

“This suggests that environmental factors such as air pollution may be contributing to Alzheimer’s disease, particularly in patients whose disease cannot be genetically explained,” said study leader Anke Huls, assistant professor at Emory University School of Public Health. The study did not prove that air pollution causes Alzheimer’s disease, but it did confirm that there is a link between exposure to certain types of pollution and the symptoms of the disease.

Researchers examined tissue from 224 donors in the Atlanta metropolitan area who volunteered to donate their brains for research before they died.

“In particular, donors living in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution showed more plaques dying of Alzheimer’s disease than donors living in areas with low concentrations of air pollution,” he said.

She told researchers that exposure to high levels of pollution can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

More than half of the donors had the strongest genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease, known as the apo gene. But for donors without a previous genetic predisposition, researchers found a strong link between traffic-related air pollution and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease.

PM2.5 concentrations have long been known to cause short-term respiratory problems. This is because the particles are very small – 2.5 microns and smaller in diameter – after being ingested, they enter the bloodstream. Breathing in smoke also irritates your sinuses, throat and eyes, he says Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more severe cases, exposure has been linked to heart attacks and strokes – as well as lung cancer and damage to cognitive function.

Gaurab Basu, director of education and policy at Harvard’s Center for Climate, Health, and the Environment, said the study sheds light on the dangers of environmental air pollution on the brain.

“We often think about air pollution in the lungs, but it’s important to put the brain at the forefront of the discussion about the ways air pollution affects our health,” Basu said.

While this study examined the brains of primarily white, college-educated males, Basu said, poor communities and communities of color are often more exposed to particulate matter and traffic-related pollution — because highways and roads are purposely built in their communities.

“This pollution doesn’t affect everyone,” Basu said. “Vehicular air pollution is fundamentally a health equity issue.”

Heather Snyder, vice president of medical and scientific communications for the Alzheimer’s Association, said more research is needed to determine the exact link between traffic-related air pollution and brain changes in Alzheimer’s disease.

“We know Alzheimer’s is a complex disease, and it’s likely that several factors combine to affect a person’s lifespan,” Snyder told The Post in an email. “Avoid exposure to air pollution is a risk that some people can change, but others cannot or simply cannot.”

This study also The most recent descriptor in the developing literature The relationship between air pollution and cognitive decline. Emergence Research He also found that exposure to traffic-related particulate matter can reduce cortical thickness and thin gray matter in the brain, affecting information processing, learning and memory. Experts point to a growing body of evidence linking exposure to air pollution to cognitive decline, mood disorders and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.

For Huels, the best way to reduce exposure is to make individual changes, such as limiting time outdoors when air pollution is high and wearing a mask when necessary. Changes such as driving an electric vehicle or using public transport can contribute to reducing air pollution, she said.

“To really reduce exposure to air pollution, we need political decisions and changes,” Huels said. There is generally no safe or healthy level of air pollution or traffic-related air pollution.