Traffic noise is a big issue for anyone living next to a busy road. But, it turns out that living close to a busy route could not just be a nuisance, but also harmful to health. A major new piece of research has found that living next to a busy road could increase the risk of Alzheimer’s by 12 per cent.
A study looked at 6.6 million people, finding that one in 10 cases of the condition among those who lived close to busy routes could be down to air and noise pollution. Hong Chen, the scientist who led the research at Public Health Ontario, said that people were increasingly living close to heavy traffic because of population growth and urbanisation.
He said that even a modest impact from traffic exposure could result in a large public health burden. The new study follows an increasing body of research which has linked air pollution and traffic noise to a reduction in density of white matter and lower cognition. Research has also suggested that nano particles from pollutants could find their way into brain tissue.
The latest piece of research, which has been publishing in the respected The Lancet journal, revealed that people living near heavy traffic were up to 12 per cent more likely to suffer from dementia.
Old age psychiatry professor Rob Howard said that it was not clear about whether the small increase in the risk of dementia was driven by indirect effects or direct influences. However, either way, he said it was yet another reason to clean up the air in British cities.
Those who lived near a major artery and who did not move house for the duration of the decade-long study were most at risk. However, other experts have said that people living next to busy main roads should not be too concerned by the new research.