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Do Busy Roads in Durham Increase Your Risk for Dementia?

February 28, 2017

If you live near a busy road, you might consider moving further away from it to a place with less traffic. A Canadian study has found increased risk of dementia in those living close to busy traffic. Mental decline was more evident in those living within 160 feet of a major street. The closer people lived to a street the higher the association with mental decline. No cause and effect could be proven, only association.

High traffic roads were thought to be a source of environmental stressors that could increase the onset of dementia. This study brings to light the importance of environmental factors when planning urban developments and the effect of those plans on public health. The study followed over 6.6 million people age 20-85 from 2001-2012. Over 95% lived less than a mile from a main road and over half lived within 650 feet of a busy street. Over the course of the study, 243,000 people developed dementia and only dementia was associated with living close to a main road while the risks fell as the distance between their home and heavy traffic increased. Those living near a busy road had a 7% higher risk for dementia. No increase was found for those living over 650 feet from a main road. It is suspected that exposure to air pollutants, nitrogen dioxide and fine particulate matter, was associated with higher dementia rates. The scientists also suspected the other air pollutants and traffic noise might play a role as well.
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