Air pollution from vehicle tailpipes isn’t just linked to respiratory issues. A University of Washington study has found an association between higher levels of air pollution and higher risk for dementia.
First spotted by Inhabitat, the study was based on data from two existing studies, one tracking levels of air pollution in the Puget Sound region since the 1970s, the other investigating risks for dementia since 1994.
An increase of 1 microgram per cubic centimeter of PM2.5 particulate matter corresponded to a 16% greater risk of all-cause dementia, and a similarly-increased risk for Alzheimer’s-type dementia, according to the study.
This particulate matter comes primarily from the burning of fossil fuels, according to the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A study last year also linked higher levels of PM2.5 to higher coronavirus death rates.
I-5 traffic in Seattle
Studies like these show that eliminating tailpipe emissions and embracing renewable energy could have major health benefits, in addition to combating climate change.
While automakers are taking tentative steps toward full electrification, they’re also marketing cabin-filtration systems meant to combat the very pollutants produced by their vehicles.
Earlier this year, Volvo claimed to have the first vehicle that assesses PM2.5 air quality inside the cabin. Hyundai has also shown a system using a laser sensor and soon to arrive in some vehicles for the U.S. market.
Toyota also claims to clean the air of such particulates as you drive the Mirai fuel-cell car—although it doesn’t discuss the source of the hydrogen. That could very well be coal, if certain provisions of the pending bipartisan infrastructure bill take effect.