Air Pollution From Major Roads, Highways Linked With Incidence of Parkinson Disease

April 11, 2020
Alison Rodriguez

New research suggests that living near major roads or highways is associated with incidence of non-Alzheimer dementia, Parkinson disease (PD), Alzheimer disease (AD), and multiple sclerosis (MS).

New research suggests that living near major roads or highways is associated with incidence of non-Alzheimer dementia, Parkinson disease (PD), Alzheimer disease (AD), and multiple sclerosis (MS).

Published in Environmental Health, the study involved a data analysis of approximately 678,000 residents of Metro Vancouver, Canada. The researchers aimed to investigate associations between exposures and non-AD dementia and PD. Additionally, associations with AD and MS were assessed in nested case-control analyses.

According to the results, road proximity was associated with all outcomes for living less than 50 meters from a major road or less than 150 meters from a highway. Furthermore, a link was also found between air pollutants and incidence of PD and non-AD dementia.

"For the first time, we have confirmed a link between air pollution and traffic proximity with a higher risk of dementia, PD, AD, and MS at the population level," Weiran Yuchi, the study's lead author and a PhD candidate in the UBC school of population and public health, said in a statement. "The good news is that green spaces appear to have some protective effects in reducing the risk of developing 1 or more of these disorders. More research is needed, but our findings do suggest that urban planning efforts to increase accessibility to green spaces and to reduce motor vehicle traffic would be beneficial for neurological health."

The researchers also noted that noise was not associated with any outcomes, however, associations with greenness suggested protective effects for PD and non-AD dementia, the findings explained.

"For people who are exposed to a higher level of green space, they are more likely to be physically active and may also have more social interactions," said senior study author Michael Brauer, professor in the UBC school of population and public health. "There may even be benefits from just the visual aspects of vegetation."

The authors suggested that these findings emphasize the importance of city planners, including greenery and parks when developing residential neighborhoods.

Reference

Yuchi W, Sbihi H, Davies H, et al. Road proximity, air pollution, noise, green space and neurologic disease incidence: a population-based cohort study [published online January 21, 2020]. Environ Health. doi: 10.1186/s12940-020-0565-4.