Study Finds Air Pollution a Risk Factor for Alzheimer’s Disease

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco found that among older adults with cognitive impairment, the greater the air pollution in their neighborhood, the higher the likelihood of the presence of amyloid plaques in their brain. Lead researcher Leonardo Iaccarino, PhD, details his work examining air pollution and brain health outcomes and discusses possible ways individuals and society can lower the impact of air pollution on Alzheimer’s disease risk. 

Guest: Leonardo Iaccarino, PhD, University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center

Episode Topics

  • What sparked your interest in neuroscience and Alzheimer's disease research? 1:06
  • Why is your research so pivotal? 2:21
  • What was the IDEAS Study? 4:12
  • What kinds of air pollution are you referring to? 6:09
  • What can generate PM2.5? 7:45
  • Are cars or factories potential sources? 8:50
  • How does air pollution increase risk for Alzheimer's disease? 9:15
  • Is there a further increased risk after long exposure? 11:00
  • Why is it important that there was no link to ground-level ozone? 12:04
  • Did you look into the APOE4 genetic risk from air pollution? 14:32
  • What should people do with this information? 16:19
  • Is there a way to find your own neighborhood value of PM2.5? 18:44
  • Do you see any policy or system changes in the future from your findings? 19:55
  • Do you believe there might be other environmental factors that increase risk? 21:03
  • What do you do in your life to decrease risk for neurodegeneration? 21:57

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Show Notes

man with dark, curly hair wearing a blue suit jacket standing in front of a light blue wall
Leonardo Iaccarino, PhD

Dr. Leonardo Iaccarino's paper "Association Between Ambient Air Pollution and Amyloid Positron Emission Tomography Positivity in Older Adults With Cognitive Impairment" was published online at JAMA Neurology on November 30, 2020.

Read some of the news coverage about the paper: