Air Pollution Increases Risk of Dementia

by updated 2012/02/26

In the past month more studies have linked particulates in the air to increased risk of heart disease and cancer beyond just lung cancer.  For example a recent Journal of the American Medical Association article by researchers in France stated that pollution like carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.  The link between air pollution and lung problems like asthma and lung cancer has been long been known, but these new studies show that the effects may go much further in impacting health.  Now, a new study shows that air pollutants may increase the risk of cognitive decline in older people.  I was not able to read the full article as it is behind a pay wall but I suspect that pollutants such as heavy metals might be behind this finding.

The joke here would be to say I am glad I don’t live in Los Angeles.  But the reality is that some surprising places in the U.S. have very high levels of air pollution.  Many valley towns are susceptible to air inversions that trap particulates close to the ground.  Other cities and towns are downwind from coal plants and other industrial sources of pollutants.  Then there are those of us that love a good campfire or fire in the fireplace.  What might we be exposing ourselves to?

My first reaction is not to get too worked up about this, what about you?  Have you banned wood stoves or fireplace fires from your home?  Do you love to sit around the campfire?  Personally my pet peeve is all the diesel pickup trucks we have around here.  Driving behind one will make you have to turn off air vents and close windows.  Why can’t manufacturers make those vehicles less polluting?

Will Sig

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