Manchester Volunteers Needed for Dementia Pollution Study

Scientists are searching for volunteers in the Manchester area with a family link to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease to help them better understand the connection between air pollution and brain health.

Researchers are looking for over-50s who have a family history of neurodegenerative conditions.

Studies have linked indoor and outdoor air pollutants to various health problems, including increased risk of cardiac and lung diseases, and changes to brain health – including a strong association between air pollution and dementia onset.

Funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), the Hazard Identification Platform to Assess the Health Impacts from Indoor and Outdoor Air Pollutant Exposures through Mechanistic Toxicology (HIPTox) project unites researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Manchester with medics from NHS Manchester Foundation Trust.

The team will examine the impact on the human body of pollutants such as diesel exhaust, cleaning products, and cooking emissions.

Project co-investigator Thomas Faherty, a research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, commented: “We’re excited to launch the HIPTox programme – it’s an ambitious project and the largest of its kind. The study results will help us to better understand the most toxic common pollutants and further explore the link between air quality and dementia”.

Project co-investigator Jacky Smith, a professor at the University of Manchester, commented: “A key part of the study involves investigating potential genetic risk factors, which is why we are recruiting participants who have had a family member diagnosed with a neurodegenerative disorder, such as dementia, to determine if they are at higher risk of cognitive decline from air pollution.”

Project lead Gordon McFiggans, a professor at the University of Manchester, commented: “Using the Manchester Aerosol Chamber facility, we can safely control exposure to several common air pollutants. Volunteers will attend the Manchester Clinical Research Facility, on Grafton Street, before and after the pollutant exposures to measure cognitive and physiological functions.”

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