Breathing Wildfire Smoke Could Raise Dementia Risk, New Study Finds

By Kristoffer Tigue
Inside Climate News
September 12, 2023
Category: Health & Safety
Region: United States, US East

Exposure to wildfire smoke and air pollution from farming operations could be making Americans more susceptible to developing dementia, a recent study found. It’s among a growing body of research to draw attention to the long-term health impacts of wildfire smoke as climate change drives increasingly destructive, deadly and smoky blazes around the world. The University of Michigan study, published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s Internal Medicine, looked at the dementia prevalence in nearly 30,000 U.S. adults, using data that was gathered over two decades in a major national health survey. The researchers then ran that data through a computer model to compare it to air pollution estimates based on participant home addresses. The study found that places with higher levels of fine particulate matter pollution–or PM2.5–-also had higher rates of dementia, and that correlation was especially strong when the pollution came from wildfires and agriculture.

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