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Air quality improvement and cognitive decline in community-dwelling older women in the United States: A longitudinal cohort study

PLoS Medicine Feb 09, 2022

Greater improvement in long-term air quality (AQ) in late life was shown to be linked with slower cognitive declines in older women. This novel finding reinforces the epidemiologic evidence of a relationship between air pollution and cognitive aging.

  • Although studies have demonstrated that late-life exposure to outdoor air pollution represents a modifiable risk factor for dementia, there is inconsistent epidemiological evidence for cognitive decline.

  • Epidemiological studies have shown that enhanced AQ may reduce mortality and improve respiratory health, reinforcing the evidence of an association between ambient air pollution and these health outcomes.

  • Researchers used a US cohort of 2,232 older women followed up to 20 years, to determine if women residing in locations with greater AQ improvement exhibited slower decline in their cognitive function.

  • AQ improvement was described as the difference in air pollution levels over 2 time points that were 10 years apart.

  • Residing in locations with greater AQ improvement was found to be linked with slower cognitive declines in older women, equivalent to women who were 0.9 to 1.6 years younger.

  • The links were identified to be similar across age groups, geographic region, education, Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) e4 genotypes, and cardiovascular risk factors.

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