The Leading News & Information Service For The Facilities, Workplace & Built Environment Community

Link Between Air Quality and Alzheimer’s Found

07 September 2016 | Updated 01 January 1970
 

Tiny magnetic particles from air pollution have for the first time been discovered to be lodged in human brains – and researchers think they could be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers at Lancaster University found abundant magnetite nanoparticles in the brain tissue from 37 individuals aged three to 92-years-old who lived in Mexico City and Manchester. This strongly magnetic mineral is toxic and has been implicated in the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human brain, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Barbara Maher, from Lancaster Environment Centre, and colleagues (from Oxford, Glasgow, Manchester and Mexico City) used spectroscopic analysis to identify the particles as magnetite. Unlike angular magnetite particles that are believed to form naturally within the brain, most of the observed particles were spherical, with diameters up to 150 nm, some with fused surfaces, all characteristic of high-temperature formation – such as from vehicle (particularly diesel) engines or open fires.

The spherical particles are often accompanied by nanoparticles containing other metals, such as platinum, nickel and cobalt.

Professor Maher said: “The particles we found are strikingly similar to the magnetite nanospheres that are abundant in the airborne pollution found in urban settings, especially next to busy roads and which are formed by combustion or frictional heating from vehicle engines or brakes.”

Other sources of magnetite nanoparticles include open fires and poorly sealed stoves within homes. Particles smaller than 200 nm are small enough to enter the brain directly through the olfactory nerve after breathing air pollution through the nose.

“Our results indicate that magnetite nanoparticles in the atmosphere can enter the human brain, where they might pose a risk to human health, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” added Professor Maher.

Leading Alzheimer’s researcher Professor David Allsop, of Lancaster University’s Faculty of Health and Medicine, said: “This finding opens up a whole new avenue for research into a possible environmental risk factor for a range of different brain diseases.”

 

Published findings

The results have been published in the paper ‘Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain’ by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The paper’s authors are Barbara Maher, David Allsop, Vassil Karloukovski and Penny Foulds from Lancaster University; Imad Ahmed from the University of Oxford; Donald MacLaren from the University of Glasgow; David Mann from the University of Manchester; Ricardo Torres-Jardon from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico; and Lilian Calderon-Garciduenas from The University of Montana.

Picture: The link between air quality and brain function is nearer being a conclusive argument

Article written by Cathryn Ellis | Published 07 September 2016

Share



Related Articles

30% of London’s Particulate Matter is From Construction Sites

Data collected from industry stakeholders shows that air pollution from construction sites has been steadily on the rise in recent decades. The charity, Impact on...

 Read Full Article
Pollution Law Update Ignores IAQ, BESA Objects

The Building Engineering Services Association (BESA) says it is surprised that changes to pollution laws announced by the government ignore the importance of indoor air...

 Read Full Article
Clean Air Day 2022 – The Business Case for Improved Air Quality

Clean Air Day is the UK's largest air pollution campaign, bringing together communities, businesses, schools and the health sector.   Watch the...

 Read Full Article
World's First Climate Change Patient?

A woman in Canada has recently been the first to be diagnosed with health complications as a direct result of climate-change-induced weather experience. Dr Kyle Merrit...

 Read Full Article
WHO Updates Air Quality Guidelines for First Time Since 2005

The World Health Organisation has updated its official air quality guidelines, as air pollution remains one of the greatest environmental risks to health.  The...

 Read Full Article
New CIBSE Air Cleaning Guidance Considering COVID

Two new pieces of guidance on reducing COVID-19 transmission through ventilation and air cleaning technologies have been issued by the Chartered Institution of Building...

 Read Full Article
Why is Air Quality Important?

Last month was National Clean Air Month in the US. Why is air quality important? The pandemic has brought consideration of clean air to the public eye, but the quality...

 Read Full Article
Spotlight Interview | CPA Engineered Solutions | The Biojet

In this Spotlight interview, we join CPA Engineered Solutions to discuss their new air sterilisation device, The Biojet. CPA Engineered Solutions Ltd has a 29 year...

 Read Full Article
Platform Launched to Fight Air Quality Confidentiality

OpenAQ, a global nonprofit NGO aiming to build the world’s largest repository of air quality data, have announced a new pilot platform integrating low-cost...

 Read Full Article
Is China’s Cleaner Air Making The Rest of the Planet Warmer?

The success of China’s clean air policies may result in additional global warming for the entire northern hemisphere. In a new paper published in Environmental...

 Read Full Article