A Korean study found that fine dust can make the brain shrink and cause cognitive decline.
Using brain MRI, the researchers measured the subjects’ cortical thickness and subcortical volume. Then, they compared the values with the concentration of air pollutants in the subjects’ residential areas.
The results showed that the higher concentration of air pollutants, the thinner cortical thickness, and the smaller the brain structures such as the hippocampus, basal ganglia, and thalamus.
“The area becoming thinner due to exposure to air pollutants is mainly responsible for learning and memory. This area is associated with memory loss in dementia,” said Noh. “A long-term exposure to air pollution accelerates brain aging and increases the risk of dementia even in healthy elderly people with no underlying disease.”