Air pollution linked to increased risk of Parkinson’s disease

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Researchers at Barrow Neurological Institute have conducted a comprehensive study, soon to be published in Neurology, the journal of the American Academy of Neurology, exploring the connection between air pollution and Parkinson’s disease.

The study’s leader, Brittany Krzyzanowski, Ph.D., emphasizes that this research is the first of its kind to confirm a strong nationwide link between Parkinson’s disease and fine particulate matter in the U.S.

Key Findings: Air Pollution and Regional Variations

The study identified specific areas, including the Mississippi-Ohio River Valley and parts of North Dakota, Texas, Kansas, eastern Michigan, and Florida, as Parkinson’s disease hotspots. Intriguingly, the western half of the U.S. showed a reduced risk compared to other regions.

Prior research indicated that fine particulate matter could cause inflammation in the brain, a known pathway to Parkinson’s disease development. This study builds on that knowledge, linking incident Parkinson’s disease with air pollution.

The Influence of Regional Pollution Composition

The strength of the link between air pollution and Parkinson’s disease varied by region, possibly reflecting differences in the composition of particulate matter.

Some regions may have air pollution containing more harmful components, like combustion particles and heavy metals, known to be detrimental to brain health.

The study hints at different pollution sources, such as high road network density and industrial activities, which might contribute to the regional variation in Parkinson’s disease risk.

Implications and Future Research

While past research on Parkinson’s disease has focused primarily on pesticide exposure, this study suggests that air pollution should also be considered a significant environmental factor in the disease’s development.

The findings could inform stricter air quality policies, aiming to reduce the levels of air pollution and, consequently, the risk of Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions.

The methods employed in this study could be applied to investigate other neurological health outcomes, broadening our understanding of the impact of environmental toxins on brain health.


This groundbreaking research from Barrow Neurological Institute presents a significant step forward in understanding the environmental factors contributing to Parkinson’s disease.

By highlighting the link between air pollution and Parkinson’s, the study opens new avenues for prevention strategies and policy reforms to protect public health.

If you care about Parkinson’s disease, please read studies about Parkinson’s gene variant is found predominantly in people of African ancestry and findings of Research shows a dangerous cause of Parkinson’s disease.

For more information about Parkinson’s disease, please see recent studies about Keto diet as a potential aid for Parkinson’s disease and results showing that Flavonoids in diet may lower death risk in Parkinson’s disease.

The research findings can be found in Journal of Neurology.

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