Air Pollution Might Increase Risk of Dementia? (BBC News / Alzheimer’s Society / PNAS / NHS Choices)


Particles of iron oxide (magnetite) related to air pollution have been discovered in samples of human brain tissue. There may be a weak link between air pollution-related particulates and development of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease, but the evidence at present is circumstancial rather than established.

“We already know oxidative damage contributes to brain damage in Alzheimer’s patients so if you’ve got iron in the brain it’s very likely to do some damage. It can’t be benign”. Prof David Allsop, Lancaster University.

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Shukman, D. (2016). Pollution particles ‘get into brain’. London: BBC Science & Environment News / BBC Health News, September 5th 2016.

See also:

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Magnetite from air pollution found in brain tissue for the first time, research finds. London: Alzheimer’s Society, September 5th 2016.

This relates to:

Full Text Link (Note: This article requires a suitable Athens password, a journal subscription or payment for access).


Maher, BA. Ahmed, IAM. [and] Karloukovski, V. [et al]  (2016). Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). September 5th 2016. [Epub ahead of print].

Further appraisal of this research:

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Pollution particles in the brain ‘linked to Alzheimer’s disease’. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, September 7th 2016.

Speed bumps don’t help:

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Councils urged to redesign speed bumps to cut pollution. London: BBC Health News, December 1st 2016.

So I Can Breathe

The BBC’s “So I Can Breathe” series examined air pollution in the UK (and around the world):

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Harrabin, R. (2017). How bad is air pollution in the UK? London: BBC Science News, March 6th 2017.

June 2017 Update

Public Health England (PHE) and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) have released guidance.

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Gallagher, J. (2017). ‘Ban parents from leaving engines on’, says guidance. London: BBC Health News, June 30th 2017.

Stricter Clean Air Act Required?

The House of Commons Environment, Health, Transport and Environmental Audit Committees have called for a new Clean Air Act:

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Harrabin, R. (2018). MPs warn of ‘poisonous air’ emergency costing £20bn a year. London: BBC Health News / BBC Politics News, March 15th 2018.

WHO Global Report

47 UK towns and cities match or exceed air pollution limits set by the World Health Organization:

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UK’s most polluted towns and cities revealed. London: BBC Health News, May 2nd 2018.


About Dementia and Elderly Care News

Dementia and Elderly Care News. Wolverhampton Medical Institute: WMI. (jh)
This entry was posted in Alzheimer's Society, BBC News, For Doctors (mostly), For Nurses and Therapists (mostly), For Researchers (mostly), In the News, International, Quick Insights, UK, Universal Interest, World Health Organization (WHO) and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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