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Living Close To Major Roads Associated With Increased Risk of Cognitive Impairment

Exposure to air pollution can have short-term effects including headaches, dizziness, nausea, and long-term effects such as increased risk of heart disease, respiratory diseases, and damage to nerves. A new study suggests that living in close proximity to a major road and the resultant exposure to air pollution may increase the risk of cognitive impairment.

For their study, the researchers used data from 678,00 adults between the ages of 45 and 84 who live in a major metropolitan area. They built a model to evaluate associations between proximity to major roads, exposure to air pollution and noise, and incidences of non-Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.

Living less than 165 feet from a major road or 500 feet from a major highway was found to be associated with a higher risk of developing non-Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis. Air pollution was associated with a higher risk of developing non-Alzheimer’s dementia and Parkinson’s disease. No association was found for exposure to noise.

The researchers also found that living in close proximity to green spaces offered some protective effects.

The study was conducted by researchers from the University of British Columbia. It was published online ahead of print on January 21, 2020 in the journal Environmental Health.

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