A study has found that individuals residing in areas with moderate levels of air pollution face a 56 per cent higher risk of developing Parkinson’s disease compared to those living in regions with the lowest air pollution levels. Published in the journal Neurology, the study aimed to recognize national geographical patterns of Parkinson’s disease and investigate the potential associations with fine particulate matter.
Examining data from nearly 22 million individuals in a Medicare dataset, the population-based geographic study identified around 90,000 people with Parkinson’s disease. Brittany Krzyzanowski, a researcher at the Barrow Neurological Institute in the US, who spearheaded the study, highlighted previous research indicating that fine particulate matter can cause brain inflammation, a known mechanism linked to the development of Parkinson’s disease.
Employing cutting-edge geospatial analytical techniques, the study for the first time confirmed a robust nationwide correlation between Parkinson’s disease and fine particulate matter in the US, Krzyzanowski added. The research also revealed that the relationship between air pollution and Parkinson’s disease isn’t uniform across the country, displaying varying strengths by region.
Krzyzanowski noted that the differences in Parkinson’s disease across regions could be attributed to variations in the composition of particulate matter. Certain areas may contain particulate matter with more harmful components compared to others. The researchers anticipate that the insights gained from this groundbreaking study will advocate for stricter policies to reduce air pollution levels, subsequently lowering the risk of Parkinson’s disease and related ailments.
Krzyzanowski emphasized that despite considerable research focused on identifying the environmental risk factors for Parkinson’s disease, primarily centered on pesticide exposure, this study suggests that attention should also be directed towards air pollution as a contributing factor in the development of Parkinson’s disease.