Is Urban Pollution Exacerbating Dementia and Alzheimer’s?
Contributed to TLB By: Sally Phillips
New research is suggesting that industrial air pollution is leaving magnetic waste products in our brains. Known as magnetites, the full effect of this byproduct in our air and in our bodies is unknown and being studied. However, some research into the brains of dementia and Alzheimer’s patients is showing large deposits of these kinds of materials. While scientists also believe that there are genetic and dietary causes of these conditions as well as the general theory of the effects of living to older ages, there might be a correlation between these pollutants and these conditions.
Pay Attention to Local Air Quality
Regardless of whether they cause Dementia or Alzheimer’s or not, these pollutants are bad for our health. There is a reason why lung diseases and related deaths spike in urban areas. Many people, but particularly senior citizens are prone to the effects of airborne particles and chemicals such as pollen, dust storms, wildfires, exhaust fumes, and industrial waste.
You will find some information on air quality during local weather forecasts; especially if there is an extreme warning. If such a warning is issued, it is best to stay indoors. If you would like more information as to the air quality outside, you can check the Environmental Protection Agency’s real-time national air quality map.
Clean Your Indoor Air
While being outdoors and near industrial areas or congested roads is the most dangerous for picking up harmful pollutants, you can do more to clean the air indoors too. Being indoors offers some protection, but the American Lung Association believe that sometimes, stale air indoors can be worse than the air outside. Elements such as radon, lead dust, cleaning products, and pet dander can pollute the air indoors. Here’s a few things you can do though:
- Run your HVAC fan to filter out pollen, dander, and other particles
- Regularly replace your HVAC filters
- Buy a higher quality filter which targets smaller particles
- Get your home tested for other particles such as asbestos, radon, lead, and mold
- If you have elderly parents, work with them to improve their air quality of their homes
- Avoid wood burning stoves and fireplaces if possible
- Avoid furniture which uses VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in their paint. Non-VOC paint is more expensive, but won’t out-gas chemicals
If you are concerned about air quality in your home or nearby, you can take a number of additional steps. First, check out the ALA’s indoor air quality checklist, consult with a doctor about current lung health and seek advice for breathing cleaner air, and local agencies to find ways of improving local air quality.
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