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Air pollution was significantly linked to an increased risk of hospitalization for various neurological conditions, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and other dementias, in a long-term study of more than 63 million older adults in the US conducted by researchers from Harvard TH Chan Health.

The study, carried out with colleagues at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, is the first nationwide analysis of the association between fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and neurodegenerative diseases unprecedented in the US Amount of data compared to previous studies on air pollution and neurological disorders.

The study will be published online on October 19, 2020 in The Lancet Planetary Health.

“The 2020 Lancet Commission’s report on the prevention, intervention and care of Dementia added air pollution as one of the modifiable risk factors for these findings,” said Xiao Wu, PhD student in biostatistics at Harvard Chan School and co-lead author of the study. “Our study builds on the small but emerging body of evidence to suggest that long-term PM2.5 exposures are associated with an increased risk of neurological health deterioration, even at PM2.5 levels well below current national levels Standards lie. “

The researchers examined the hospitalization data of 63,038,019 Medicare recipients in the US for 17 years (2000-2016) and linked them to estimated PM2.5 concentrations by zip code. Taking into account potential confounders such as socioeconomic status, they found that for every 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg / m3) increase in annual PM2.5 concentrations, there was a 13% increased risk of first-time hospitalization for Parkinson’s disease and for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. This risk remained elevated even below supposedly safe PM2.5 exposure values, which according to the current standards of the US Environmental Protection Agency are an annual average of 12 μg / m3 or less.

The study found that women, whites, and urban populations were particularly vulnerable. Older adults in the northeastern United States were at greatest risk for first-time admission to Parkinson’s disease. Older adults in the Midwest were at the highest risk when first admitting Alzheimer’s and related dementias.

“Our US-wide study shows that current standards do not adequately protect the aging American population and underscores the need for more stringent standards and guidelines that will help further reduce PM2.5 levels and improve overall air quality,” said Antonella Zanobetti, principal research scientist in the environmental health department at Harvard Chan School and co-senior author on the study.

Live near major highways that are associated with the risk of Dementia, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and MS

More information:
“Long-term Effects of PM2.5 on Neurological Disorders in the American Medicare Population: A Long-Term Cohort Study”, Liuhua Shi, Xiao Wu, Mahdieh Danesh Yazdi, Danielle Braun, Yara Abu Awad, Yaguang Wei, Pengfei Liu, Qian Di, Yun Wang, Joel Schwartz, Francesca Dominici, Marianthi-Anna Kioumourtzoglou, Antonella Zanobetti, The Lancet Planetary Health, online, October 19, 2020, doi: Provided by Harvard TH Chan School for public health

Quote: A significant association between air pollution and neurological disorders (2020, October 19) was retrieved from on October 19, 2020

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