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Truth Behind the Headlines: Air Pollution linked to markers of Neurodegenerative Disease

Media are reporting that scientists recently found that the brains of young people exposed to air pollution display the markers of neurodegenerative diseases in their brain stems. 


Research has shown a link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease. Young adults and children who are exposed to air pollution from a young age can develop markers of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and motor disease in their brain stems. Certain disease-causing particles which are produced almost solely through vehicle emissions and braking systems were found in children and young adults brain stems as young as 11 months. 


Researchers found that individuals with high amounts of theses nanoparticles also showed markers found in those who later developed such neurodegenerative diseases. They found that groups of people of the same age who lived in low pollution areas did not show such markers.  

Using our recommended five tips, Global Action Plan reviewed the study:


Questions to ask to get to the truth Our response
1. Does the article refer to a report to back up its claims?

Yes, this article is based on scientific research published by the scholarly journal ‘Environmental Research’ in September of 2020.  

2. Who is behind the study it refers to?

The lead author works at the University of Montana. 

3. How fantastical and radical is the claim that is being made?

The researchers examined material from autopsies, first removing external contamination before looking for the markers for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and motor neuron disease in the brain stems. 

4. What geographical region does the claim refer to?

Data was collected from residents of Mexico City in Mexico 

5. What is the sample size of the study?

Researchers examined brain material from 186 people taken between 2004 and 2008 from individuals ranging from 11 months to 40 years of age. 

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