is cited in reports from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) as accounting for more deaths than high LDL cholesterol and body mass index.
From the perspective of our neurological wellbeing, air pollution has been implicated in Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, and numerous other medical conditions including cardiovascular disorders. And, as a recent study published in Cardiovascular Research indicated, air pollution globally is estimated to cost individuals 2.9 years of their lives.2
Research links air pollution to increased incidence of Parkinson’s disease.
Parkinson’s disease is now the world’s fastest growing brain disease with up to half of affected individuals residing in Asia. To evaluate the theory that poor air quality contributes to Parkinson disease, investigators evaluated air pollution in South Korea.
They conducted a retrospective cohort study that used data from the Korean National Health Insurance Service, including approximately 80,000 individuals older than 40 years who lived in Seoul from 2002 to 2006.
Between 2007 and 2015, more than 300 of these individuals were diagnosed with Parkinson disease. The researchers examined their home addresses and the district-level monitoring results for 6 pollutants. They found that exposure to NO2, produced primarily from burning fossil fuels in automobiles and power plants, is associated with a subsequent diagnosis of Parkinson disease.3
The problems are compounded in dense, urban areas.
In Mexico City, where air pollution is high, Dr. Calderón-Garcidueñas and others observed loss of smell in children. More concerning, Calderón-Garcidueñas and colleagues found inflammation and α-synuclein pathology in the olfactory bulbs of young people who had died as a result of traumatic incidents.
After examining the brainstems of 186 young Mexico City residents aged between 11 months and 27 years of age, researchers identified markers not only of Alzheimer's disease, but also of Parkinson's and of motor neuron disease (MND) too.
So not only did the brainstems of the young people in the study show the neuropathological hallmarks of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and MND, they also had high concentrations of iron-, aluminium- and titanium-rich nanoparticles in the brainstem - specifically in the substantia nigra, and cerebellum.
And the problem isn’t going away….
Air pollution is a worldwide problem that must be addressed globally – we can’t just look at the incidence of disease and effects on our general and brain health in isolation as events happening elsewhere. It’s happening all around us, in the U.S. and clearly in other countries and continents. Addressing these issues and taking appropriate measures to improve the quality of air we all breathe is a matter of the greatest concern - not just for the impacts to our wellness today, but for all of the planet’s children and future generations.
In hope and healing,
Dr. Suzanne Gazda
For more about how pollutants enter our system, see:
For ways to reduce your exposure to air pollutants, see:
1 Learn more about the significant findings in your area and the air you breathe:
State of Global Air|2020: https://www.stateofglobalair.org/
2 Jos Lelieveld, Andrea Pozzer, Ulrich Pöschl, Mohammed Fnais, Andy Haines, Thomas Münzel, Loss of life expectancy from air pollution compared to other risk factors: a worldwide perspective, Cardiovascular Research, Volume 116, Issue 11, 1 September 2020, Pages 1910–1917, https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvaa025
3 Jo S, Kim Y, Park KW, et al. Association of NO2 and Other Air Pollution Exposures With the Risk of Parkinson Disease. JAMA Neurol. Published online May 17, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.1335
Dr. Suzanne Gazda, Integrative Neurology