Air Pollution and Brain Health

What is Air Pollution? What is the evidence linking air pollution to adverse effects on the brain? How does air pollution alter brain development and brain function? These are just a few of the questions answered in the publication "Air Pollution and Brain Health" by Professor of Neurotoxicology Dr. Pamela Lein and Distinguished Professor Dr. Anthony Wexler of UC Davis.

In some geographic regions air pollutants that humans are exposed to can surpass safe standards by a factor of more than 10. While it's widely known that air pollution of this magnitude is not good for your health, Dr. Lein and Dr. Wexler review in depth the numerous epidemiological studies around the globe that describe the link between air pollution and an increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases in humans and animals.

A more recent realization is that air pollution not only increases the risk of neurologic disease, but also exerts more subtle effects on the healthy brain – decreased productivity termed “brain fog”... The effects of air pollution on cognitive function in otherwise healthy individuals appear to worsen with increasing duration of exposure.

Dr. Lein and Dr. Wexler note that,

While epidemiologic studies can identify associations between air pollution and altered brain function or disease, they cannot establish a cause-effect relationship...what gets into the brain after inhalation of air pollutants and how it gets there remain outstanding questions.

While Dr. Lein and Dr. Wexler have reviewed and connected many epidemiologic studies that show air pollution's influence on various neurological diseases, there are still many more questions that need answers and as they note, "answering these questions will likely not be straightforward." Read the full article text with the UC Davis Department of Molecular Biosciences online below to learn about the various studies and their connections. 


Air Pollution and Brain Health

Citation: Lein, Pamela J, and Anthony S Wexler. Air Pollution and Brain Health. UC Davis Department of Molecular Biosciences, 2020, Air Pollution and Brain Health.

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