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Exposure to relatively high levels of air pollution is linked to increased use of community mental health services by people with dementia, finds a large long term study focusing on a large area of London with heavy traffic and published in the open access journal BMJ Mental Health.

Cutting levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter might reduce demand in urban areas and help free up resources in overstretched psychiatric services, suggest the researchers.

An estimated 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, with the number projected to increase to 2 million by 2050, in tandem with the aging of the population. Dementia is already the leading cause of death in the UK, note the researchers.

A good deal of research has focused on the effects of air pollution in older age, including its potential role in the speeding up of cognitive decline and dementia, they add.

But while air pollution has been linked to increased health service use by people with dementia, these studies have largely focused on hospital services, rather than community services, which is where most people with the condition are managed in the UK.

To plug this knowledge gap, the researchers looked back at community mental health service use over 9 years by 5024 older people (65 and above) living in 4 boroughs of South London following their initial dementia diagnosis between 2008 and 2012.


A recent study highlighted in a News-Medical article on August 7, 2023, underscores a concerning association between air pollution and increased utilization of community mental health services among individuals with dementia. The research found a significant link between exposure to air pollutants and a higher demand for mental health support, shedding light on an issue of paramount importance.

According to the study, conducted by a team of researchers, the findings reveal a compelling correlation between air pollution levels and the exacerbation of cognitive decline in individuals already grappling with dementia. The study’s data suggests that as air quality deteriorates due to pollutants, the need for community mental health services surges, further stressing the already burdened healthcare system.

These alarming findings underscore the urgent need for environmental and public health interventions aimed at reducing air pollution levels and protecting vulnerable populations, especially those struggling with cognitive disorders like dementia.

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Fel Clinical Director of Content
Felisa Laboro has been working with addiction and substance abuse businesses since early 2014. She has authored and published over 1,000 articles in the space. As a result of her work, over 1,500 people have been able to find treatment. She is passionate about helping people break free from alcohol or drug addiction and living a healthy life.

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