Updated Aug. 5, 2017
On Jan, 29, 2015, six physicians with expertise on how air pollution affects the brain gave a 75 minute presentation on the latest research on this critical public health topic. You can listen to it here.
Many of the compounds adsorbed to particulate matter are neurotoxic. The systemic inflammation caused by air pollution also affects the brain since air pollution components reach the brain and can penetrate deeply into the parenchyma.
Air pollution causes the following biologic and anatomic changes and many can be found in children and young adults.
*CNS oxidative stress
*Subclinical “mini-strokes” or brain infarcts.
*Brain atrophy in adults and loss of cerebral white matter in children
*Cortical stress measured by EEG*Enhancement of Alzheimer type-abnormal filamentous proteins, evidence of which is found even in children.
*Blood Brain Barrier changes
* Prenatal exposure to air pollution is particularly harmful to fetal brain development, even causing loss of white matter involving the left hemisphere which results in impaired cognition and behavioral disorders in childhood.
Greater air pollution exposure is associated with impaired clinical outcomes like lower intelligence, poorer motor function, autism, attention deficits and behavioral problems in children, decreased cognition in adults, accelerated dementia, brain atrophy, higher rates of strokes, multiple sclerosis, impaired olfactory sense, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.