Even small increases in air and water pollution levels could raise the risk of developing dementia, finds a recent study conducted by Harvard Medical School.
“The study is the most comprehensive look yet at the link between the neurological condition and exposure to PM2.5 — fine particles that are 2.5 microns wide or less released by wildfires, traffic, power plants, and other sources,” writes Kate Yoder of the Canadian National Observer.
While the study did not specifically look at New Brunswick, it’s worth noting that the province is home to several cities with high pollution levels, such as Saint John and Fredericton. In fact, according to the World Air Quality Report 2021, Saint John was ranked as having the second-highest average annual concentration of fine particulate matter in Canada.
With over 20,000 New Brunswick residents currently living with dementia, and this number is expected to grow as our population ages, this finding should be a wake-up call for policymakers and citizens alike.
It’s crucial that we take action to reduce pollution levels and protect the health of our communities. This could include measures such as investing in electrifying transportation, supporting clean energy initiatives, and implementing stricter regulations on industrial and agricultural practices. It could also mean setting clear targets to reduce pollution and having New Brunswick adopt the World Health Organization’s global air quality guidelines.
As the Conservation Council of New Brunswick noted in December 2022, ten of 16 air quality stations monitoring PM2.5 reported the pollutant at a higher annual concentration than the current WHO standard (5 micrograms per cubic metre air, or µg/m3).
We need to take responsibility for the health of our planet and our communities. By working together, we can help to reduce pollution levels and protect the health and well-being of future generations.