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Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Risk of Dementia, Study Finds ( 118

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: People living near a busy road have an increased risk of dementia, according to research that adds to concerns about the impact of air pollution on human health. Roughly one in 10 cases of Alzheimer's in urban areas could be associated with living amid heavy traffic, the study estimated -- although the research stopped short of showing that exposure to exhaust fumes causes neurodegeneration. Previously, scientists have linked air pollution and traffic noise to reduced density of white matter (the brain's connective tissue) and lower cognition. A recent study suggested that magnetic nano-particles from air pollution can make their way into brain tissue. The latest study, published in The Lancet, found that those who live closest to major traffic arteries were up to 12% more likely to be diagnosed with dementia -- a small but significant increase in risk. The study, which tracked roughly 6.6 million people for more than a decade, could not determine whether pollution is directly harmful to the brain. The increased dementia risk could also be a knock-on effect of respiratory and cardiac problems caused by traffic fumes or due to other unhealthy life-style factors associated with living in built-up urban environments. The study tracked all adults aged between 20 and 85 living in Ontario, Canada from 2001 to 2012, using postcodes to determine a person's proximity to major roads. The cohort's medical records were examined to see who went on to develop dementia, Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis. Over the study period, more than 243,000 people developed dementia, 31,500 people developed Parkinson's disease and 9,250 people developed multiple sclerosis. The scientists found no link between living near a road and Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis, but dementia was slightly more common in people living close to busy roads and the risk dropped off gradually in less built-up areas. Those living within 50 meters of a busy road had a 7% higher risk in developing dementia, the risk was 4% higher risk at 50-100 meters, 2% higher risk at 101-200 meters and there was no increase in risk in those living more than 200 meters away. Those who lived in a major city, within 50 meters of a major road and who did not move house for the duration of the study had the highest risk at 12%.
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Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Risk of Dementia, Study Finds

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  • by Mr D from 63 ( 3395377 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @11:41PM (#53621817)
    You'd have to be crazy to live there.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2017 @11:44PM (#53621829)

      Heavy traffic in cities. This explains why crowded cities are liberal.

    • by arglebargle_xiv ( 2212710 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @12:18AM (#53621949)

      As with almost all mainstream reporting of a medical result, they've mischaracterised the findings. What the study says is that breathing polluted air is a bad thing. One source of pollution is heavy traffic. Other sources of pollution are... well, just about anything related to commerce and industry, Also, pollution causes a lot more than dementia, Parkinson's and MS. However, if it were to be reported as "pollution is bad for you", it wouldn't make the mainstream media.

      As an aside, the study is pretty well done, a cohort study of several million people over a ten-year period, nothing to fault there. It's the way it's being reported in the media that's the problem.

      • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:05AM (#53622105)

        Or maybe the causation is reversed. Dealing with dementia puts enormous financial strain on families. So they don't have much money for rent, and have to live next to the freeway.

        • Actually it's much more expensive to live in a high-traffic polluted downtown area of a major city than it is to live anywhere else.

    • "You'd have to be crazy to live there."

      Demented, actually. That's why the study is flawed, they were already demented before moving there.

  • being able to live away from all the pollution. Man I wish we could convince folks to give up their damn cars and switch to public transport. Not a chance though as long as cars get you laid.
    • What's the old truism: 'A Geo Metro is far greener than a Prius, but it won't get you laid.'

      I'd add a suggestion for the parents of teenage boys: Get them a metro and hide a diaper full of newborn shit in some hidden space in the interior. You won't be having grandchildren ahead of schedule.

      Male birth control car. Won't work for girls.

    • Wrong. Living near to high density traffic MEANS you are exposed to many more people than when you live in secluded neighborhoods. It has nothing to do with air pollution or car usage or even pavement usage, but with criminality, terrorism, guerrilla, sects, gangs, mafias, burglars, intruders, vagrants... you name it, but PEOPLE. You may not be aware, but you might have been poisoned many more times than you could imagine, particularly if you have never imagined the chance of people going into your place fo
  • obvious pun (Score:5, Funny)

    by shentino ( 1139071 ) <> on Friday January 06, 2017 @11:46PM (#53621839)

    Well I've heard of driving people crazy but this is ridiculous.

  • by Snotnose ( 212196 ) on Friday January 06, 2017 @11:58PM (#53621879)
    25 years ago, looking for a house for the fiance and I. Ended up buying a house by I-5 on the knowledge Caltrans was going to build a wall between my backyard and the freeway. They did. They took months to do it. Not kidding. Survey team came in, did their thing, then 2-3 months of nothing. Demo team came in to get rid of the existing brick wall, 3 days work, 3 months nothing. Peeps came in to dig holes, suckers were about 8 feet deep. I was worried my cat would fall in one so I had to buy 4-5 plywood sheets to put over the holes. Few months later people actually came in to build the wall. They dumped some iron things into the pool and didn't fish them out, left stains on my pool bottom. Within a year the paint covering started to blister. And the noise. Jeez, the noise.

    Got divorced, moved to a quieter neighborhood. Whenever I visited the ex (yeah, she got the house) I couldn't believe the noise in the back yard. You couldn't carry a conversation at normal volume levels.

    So, when the real estate dude and anyone else says "You'll get used to it", run. Run like hell. You'll get used to dealing with it, but you won't get used to it.

    Ah yes, almost forgot. The "dust". The "dust" wasn't normal dust I've dealt with everywhere else I've lived. This "dust" was black soot-like nasty stuff.I'm guessing it was a combination of tire particles and brake particles, with a scattering of diesel stuff. Whatever, whenever I dusted I didn't get a light gray on my rag, I got a dark black.

    Moral of the story? don't buy a house next to a freeway or, corollary, by a busy street.
    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Moral of the story? don't buy a house next to a freeway or, corollary, by a busy street.

      Good advice, but then again if you've lived near such all your life? You'll probably miss the sounds/noise. I live within 300m of the 401(busiest highway in north america), the noise doesn't bother me. When I go traveling, and have to rent motels/hotel/etc rooms, I try to aim for places that are within the same distance of the nearest big highway. I find it completely relaxing, same with when I was a kid. Round that out that I've either lived right on, or within 250m of one of the busiest rail lines i

      • Try a sound generator. You can get white, brown, & pink noise; static, running water, and rain. Really, get yourself away from all that particulate stuff.

        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          Really, get yourself away from all that particulate stuff.

          The radon is likely going to do me more damage then the particulates. This is true of most people in Canada.

      • You sound demented.
        • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

          $20 says you leave the city, smell the smells of the country(shit, piss and rot), and go EWWW it stinks.

    • Ah yes, almost forgot. The "dust". The "dust" wasn't normal dust I've dealt with everywhere else I've lived. This "dust" was black soot-like nasty stuff.I'm guessing it was a combination of tire particles and brake particles, with a scattering of diesel stuff.

      Tire particles, brake particles, road particles, oil, diesel soot, just as much gasoline soot and it is actually more harmful than diesel soot. Garbage, cigarette smoke, burning oil smoke, glycol coolant.

      It would be shocking if it weren't horrendously toxic.

    • by Ichijo ( 607641 )
      Also don't live in a rural area because you are more likely to die violently there than in a city. []
  • Maybe having dementia causes more people to drive past where you live.

  • N 6.6M (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SETY ( 46845 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @12:20AM (#53621959)

    The study tracked 6.6 million people. This is awesome. These are the type of studies we need, big data studies. Everyone is always worried about medical records, but when you have a single payer system there is less of a worry about that. Imagine what else they can discover from that dataset!

    • This is why Conservative Stephen Harper tried to kill of the compulsory census, and shut down climate monitoring in Canada's north...and destroyed as much data as possible.

      The only way to really compromise a study with access to that kind of "big data" is to put a hole in the middle of the dataset where no information was collected.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This is why Conservative Stephen Harper tried to kill of the compulsory census,

        People continue to perpetuate this lie for some reason.

        In Canada, there is the regular census, which has always been there and it is mandatory under the law to respond. The requirement to have a census is in the Constitution. This was unchanged under Prime Minister Harper.

        BUT, there is an additional so-called "long-form" census that would be sent randomly to 20% of the population.

        The long-form census (as you might guess by the n

        • A voluntary long form census is statistically completely worthless. There is absolutely no value to the data when the data no longer represents a random sample of the population, and instead represents retired people with lots of time and nobody to talk to except a form. So Harper absolutely did kill the ability of researchers to learn anything useful from the census.

        • As you know (or should know, if you're going to comment on this), a voluntary long form census is useless for data purposes because it is non-random.

          Please quit being deceptive.

        • Self-selected study populations only tell you about people who choose to fill in forms. Do you really believe them to be representative of the population in general?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by blindseer ( 891256 )

      I'm old enough to remember when it was common for people to think that any government that had this much information on this many people was considered a tyranny. I'm not sure what changed but I don't like it.

    • As I said earlier (and got modded down by one of the right wing trolls who are attempting to take over this site), this is why Conservative Stephen Harper tried to kill of the compulsory census, and shut down climate monitoring in Canada's north...and destroyed as much data as possible.

      The only way to really compromise a study with access to that kind of "big data" is to put a hole in the middle of the data set where no information was collected, or where it was collected in a manner that is rendered worthl

  • Remember when gasoline had lead?

    • Re:must be the lead (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @01:41AM (#53622221)

      So local cathedral in Vancouver just underwent a major restoration where they replaced the roof. The church is located on one of the busiest intersection sin the city. As they did their work, and removed the old roof, they ran into the unanticipated problem of significant amounts of lead dust filtering down into the rest of the building. It was then that it dawned on them that the church had been sitting on the busiest intersection in the city for 100 years, and for a significant portion of those, vehicles had used leaded gasoline. The remediation of the lead added about 25% to the cost of the renovation.

    • It's possible. Lead is a neurotoxin which crosses the blood-brain barrier with ease. According to Wikipedia [], "Lead causes loss of neurons' myelin sheaths, reduces numbers of neurons, interferes with neurotransmission, and decreases neuronal growth" (references a medical textbook []), and "Long-term exposure of adults can result in decreased performance in some tests that measure functions of the nervous system" (references the EPA website []). Nasty stuff.

      Canada severely limited the use of leaded gasoline since

  • It seems to me that they did not control for the physicians who made the diagnoses (they got the diagnosis data from public record). There aren't that many urban areas in Canada. Perhaps doctors in these urban areas have a tendency to diagnose dementia. Or perhaps the doctors are just better in urban areas. Did I miss something?

  • All the article [] says is:

    In this large population-based cohort, living close to heavy traffic was associated with a higher incidence of dementia, but not with Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.

    The road noise early in the morning is really bad for sleep, which we know has a huge effect on brain function. How do we know that's not the main cause? Car pollution likes to stick around and pollute the entire city, so even if you live far away, you'd still be hit with some pollution.

    The other article they mentioned tested children's working memory and how classroom pollution affects it. None of the children had dementia, which is what this study measured.

  • Netcraft confirms it (Score:2, Informative)

    by melted ( 227442 )

    People who live in cities are demented

  • by Applehu Akbar ( 2968043 ) on Saturday January 07, 2017 @10:56AM (#53623233)

    The study doesn't seem to separate these two factors. We live near a busy intersection and used to notice traffic noise at night, when we sleep with the windows open. Several years ago the signal at the intersection was replaced by a roundabout. Suddenly it was really quiet at night, since most traffic just glides through. But by day when the traffic is heavy with tourists who don't get roundabout driving, there can be a lot of honking. When we're out on the paio at a time like this, road rage is a great form of rural theater.

  • Here in Silicon Valley, there is road noise everywhere. During the growth since the 1970s, it appears that they didn't or couldn't expand the highway system enough to suit the needs, and now the cities are riddled with expressways and 45-50 mile roads near their house.

    It isn't so in New England. You have highways and more quiet cities. There is a distinction. In Connecticut, the closest thing you have to an expressway is the Berlin Turnpike. If you live in CT, you would be amazed to learn that they put the

  • by Anonymous Coward

    People who are old enough to any form of dementia, lived during the time when lead was in the gas

  • ... all the crazy people living underneath I-5 in Seattle.

APL hackers do it in the quad.