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More Evidence Points to Air Pollution Causing Alzheimer's and Dementia

Feb 08, 2017 11:08 AM EST

More reports are starting to emerge about the possible relationship between air pollution and neurological diseases. This poses yet another dangerous threat to the mental health of people in high-risk cities that have a lot of air pollution.

Researchers from Lancaster, Oxford, Manchester and now from Indiana University have discovered more of the microscopic spheres of the mineral magnetite in the brains of people recently studied who had suffered neurological diseases.

The mineral magnetite is known to be toxic and has been linked to the production of free radicals that are associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Although magnetite has been previously found in the brains of people who died of Alzheimer's, it was thought to be occurring naturally. However, the tiny balls spotted by scientists had a fused surface, which suggests that they have been formed during extreme heat like in a car engine. Science Magazine notes that magnetite -- a form of iron oxide -- is known to be produced in car and diesel engines that emit up to 22 times more particulates than their petrol counterparts. This is very well more apparent if brakes are used, both by cars and trains.

According to Michelle Block of Indiana University, this can open yet another avenue to the possible causes of dementia. The discovery improves studies last year that also had evidence that linked the involvement of magnetite to the development of Alzheimer's.

The results have indicated that magnetite nanoparticles in the atmosphere can enter the human brain where they might pose health risks.

Reuters said the particles are strikingly similar to magnetite nanospheres that are usually abundant in the airborne pollution found in urban settings.

The Telegraph added that in Britain alone, more than 800,000 people suffer from dementia, and the figure is expected to increase with the growing population. Scientists have also reported that a drug has been formed to halt the progress of the disease by clearing the sticky plaques from the brain, which block brain cells, but no one knows what causes the plaques to form in the first place.

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