A newly published article in The Lancet Planetary Health has uncovered even more evidence showing the neurological impacts of air pollution among vulnerable populations.
The study, conducted at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, examined medical data originating from hospital institutions of over 63 million health care recipients in the United States.
According to researchers, the study is a first of its kind to analyze the potential association between fine particulate (PM2.5) pollution and neurodegenerative diseases.
“Our study builds on the small but emerging evidence base indicating that long-term PM2.5 exposures are linked to an increased risk of neurological health deterioration, even at PM2.5 concentrations well below the current national standards,” said Xiao Wu, co-author of the study, in a news release.
As stated in their findings, the research team concluded that for every 5 micrograms per cubic meter of air (μg/m3) increase in annual PM2.5 concentrations, they observed a 13 percent higher risk of new patients with neurodegenerative diseases. The risk remained, even as PM2.5 exposure was near relatively safe levels.
“We provide evidence that exposure to annual mean PM2·5 in the USA is significantly associated with an increased hazard of first hospital admission with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias,” the findings state.
“For the ageing American population, improving air quality to reduce PM2.5 concentrations to less than current national standards could yield substantial health benefits by reducing the burden of neurological disorders.”
The study received funding from the Health Effects Institute, the National Institutes of Health, and the HERCULES Center.