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BSRIA concerned with air pollution link to Alzheimer'sSeptember 2016

Julia Evans OBE, Chief Executive, BSRIA
BSRIA is concerned with this week’s findings that toxic nanoparticles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains in “abundant quantities” from a newly published study.

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. However, the new work remains a long way from proving the air pollution particles cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s.

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. Air pollution has been shown to significantly increase the risk of the condition.

Air pollution has also been linked to dementia in older men and women.

Julia Evans, Chief Executive, BSRIA, said: “These are deeply concerning results but clearly more research and information is needed at this stage. But it does confirm early stories that air pollution can affect wellbeing and cognitive performance.

Degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, mental illness and reduced intelligence are indeed cause for unease. And it is deeply worrying that outside air quality is the same as that inside. As an industry we have a role to play in providing a safe indoor environment.”


The new work, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found abundant particles of magnetite, an iron oxide.

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

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