People who live close to high-traffic roadways face a higher risk of developing dementia than those who live further away, new research has found.
The study, published in The Lancet, found that people who lived within 50 metres of high-traffic roads had a seven per cent higher likelihood of developing dementia compared to those who lived more than 300 meters away from busy roads.
The researchers examined records of more than 6.5 million Ontario, Canada, residents aged 20-85 to investigate the correlation between living close to major roads and dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.
Scientists identified 243,611 cases of dementia, 31,577 cases of Parkinson’s disease, and 9,247 cases of multiple sclerosis in Ontario between 2001 and 2012. In addition, they mapped individuals’ proximity to major roadways using the postal code of their residence. The findings indicate that living close to major roads increased the risk of developing dementia, but not Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis, two other major neurological disorders.
As urban centres become more densely populated and more congested with vehicles on major roads, the researchers suggest the findings of this paper could be used to help inform municipal land use decisions as well as building design to take into account air pollution factors and the impact on residents.