Owing to the advanced facilities and necessities offered by an urban lifestyle, the majority of the world’s population prefers to settle in city areas. Life in a big city has both its charms and harms! An easy access to the basic necessities of life is what attracts people to the cities, the most. But due to the increasing population, Pollution is assuming an alarming proportion all around the urban society.
Pollution offers a number of adverse effects on the well being of an organism. Correspondingly, a recent study shows that pollution can plausibly promote Alzheimer’s disease among the population and increase the risk of suicide among people to a considerable level.
A recent research by Dr. Lilian and Calderón-Garcidueñas from the University of Montana (UM) states the same. They stated that children and young adults living in the megacities are at an elevated risk for Alzheimer’s disease and suicide. The research conducted was published in the Journal of Environmental Research.
Mexico was the City selected for the study because its everyday amount of fine particulate matter (PM) and ozone are high above the standards of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Moreover, it has a population of about 24 million people.
During the study, 200 autopsies of the Mexican residents ranging in between 11 months to 40 years were examined by Dr. Calderón-Garcidueñas and her team. Two abnormal proteins signaling the development of Alzheimer’s were tracked and early symptoms of Alzheimer’s in babies that were less than a year old were observed.
The odd protein identified was found to be hyperphosphorylated tau and beta-amyloid. These were found in the brains of young people who have been exposed to PM2.5 all their lives. PM2.5 is the particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter. PM2.5 is 30 times less thick than the human hair, and it constitutes the haze of the urban areas.
They also found Apolipoprotein-E (APOE-4), a known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s. This points out to the early development of Alzheimer’s among children and its progression relative to age. 99 percent of the autopsies conducted showed similar results. Those who are APOE-4 carriers were found to be at a greater risk of committing suicide.
Based on the results, the researchers have deduced outdoor (ambient) air pollution to be a potential cause of Alzheimer’s disease, as well as a risk factor for suicide. This, according to them, was happening because the fine pollutants enter the brain through the nose, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract.
In a former study published in the journal “Nature”, researchers have highlighted that mortality rates associating with ambient air pollution may double by 2050.
In particular, ozone and fine particulate matter were found responsible for deaths due to strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer, by the authors. Nations with a profound dependence on coal such as China, India, and Pakistan, are also experiencing the worst air pollution – and the highest number of premature deaths.
The modern agricultural practices were second to the leading cause of premature deaths from air pollution because of the formation of ammonium nitrate and sulfate particles from ammonia employed in the livestock and fertilizers being used. This further causes harmful effects because farms are located near densely populated areas and this would allow these pollutants to mix with other release substances to form dangerous particles.
Dr. Calderón-Garcidueñas advised an early implementation of the preventive measures against Pollution. She further asked the parents to take Neuroprotection measures for their children during the prenatal period and childhood. According to her, spreading the awareness among people regarding pediatric environmental, nutritional, metabolic and genetic risk-factor interactions is the key to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
- Calderon-Garciduenas, Lilian, et al. “Air pollution and brain damage”.