Can a Busy Highway Increase Your Risk of Dementia?

Researchers have announced a scary possibility: Living near a major road may increase your chance of developing dementia.

Canadian scientists studied the 6.6-million adults living in Ontario over a 12-year period.  They found that people living within 50 meters (164 feet) of a high-traffic road experienced a 7 percent higher incidence of dementia than those living more than 200 meters (650 feet) away.  The closer one lived to a major roadway, the higher their risk.

Dementia is a general term for conditions that affect mental ability.  The researchers warn that while their results show a link, they cannot conclude that living near a major road causes an increased risk of dementia.  However, other studies have suggested that exposure to air pollution and traffic noise may increase nerve degeneration within the brain.  (Last year, a different study discovered for the first time that nanoparticles from air pollution can become lodged in the human brain.)

On the positive (?) side, the Canadian researchers found no increased risk of developing other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis from living near a major road.

Agilent technologies and solutions are used by researchers to study both air pollution and dementia.  An Agilent GC/MS can screen for 171 volatile organic air pollutants within minutes.  An Agilent TapeStation Nucleic Acid System helps UK scientists ensure the quality of DNA samples for inclusion in the Alzheimer’s Research UK DNA Bank.

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