More Strong Evidence Linking Air Pollution to Dementia

by Jul 25, 2019

Often, when I read scary articles about air pollution and the frightening effects it has on your and my health, I experience a lot of anxiety…and then proceed to do nothing. I was curious about why this happens and why I (a person who is involved in environmental causes) go to a place of inner resistance. Aka, a place of “ignore, ignore, ignore.”

As I reflected on my reaction, I found that it’s because I often feel so powerless in the situation. The system we live in is currently set up in a way that produces air pollution, and I’m just the product of that system. Can I really help that? And the system isn’t improving quickly either. In fact, it’s doing the opposite with Trump’s administration rolling back environmental protection. I can feel so helpless. Will reading another scary article change this or will it just deepen my feelings of powerlessness?

As I read the recent article about how leading scientists are getting more comfortable with stating that air pollution causes dementia, instead of just suggesting that it might, I had the paralyzing reaction. But at least this time I understood why I was having it and I could do something about it. I got myself unstuck by thinking about the reasons why I fight for clean air. And this empowered me to continue to strive to live a life, to vote, to volunteer, to support the movement for clean air.

The first reason why I support clean air is to ensure and improve the quality of human life.

If you haven’t already seen the documentary Alive Inside, you should watch it. Now. It will change you. Dementia is a horrifying disease that strips you of your personhood. Seeing the patients regain their identities through music, even if just for a few minutes, will touch you. And it will remind you how quickly and easily this disease makes you lose everything that makes you, you. Knowing that air pollution is linked to this makes me want to stand up and keep fighting for clean air. Supporting environmental protection laws works. For example, it was reported that “enforcing the EPA’s stricter air quality standard likely resulted in 140,000 fewer people living with dementia by 2014.” [1]

The second reason why I support clean air is to protect our ecosystem and all the inhabitants.

Just like humans, our ecosystem takes a hit from air pollution. Since our health is affected by poor air, then the health of our water, plants, pets, animals, reptiles, fish, insects – you name it! – is also affected. How can it not be. It wouldn’t make any logical sense. But if seeing the effects of dementia in humans somehow doesn’t move you, or you don’t feel connected to the health of the ecosystem that supports our lives, there is another reason to support clean air.

The third reason why I support clean air is to stop losing money.

You might be wondering what I mean by this. It’s simple. When humans age in a healthy way, we don’t spend as much money. Remember how it was likely that there were 140,000 fewer people living with dementia by 2014 because of enforcing the EPA’s stricter air quality standard? Well, that is equivalent to $163 billion dollars saved [1]. If we don’t have clean air, we are losing billions of dollars. So besides the fact that air pollution costs us our personhood and the health of our ecosystem, poor air also costs us a whole lot of money.

So the next time you feel overwhelmed by a scary article on air pollution, think about the reasons why you support clean air. And let that empower you to keep fighting for this beautiful cause.

Till next time.

Wishing you joy, safety and ease,
Anna

References: [1] https://www.wired.com/story/air-pollution-dementia/

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