Visualize your brain in a frac field: Air pollution spikes may impair older men’s thinking, study finds, Even short, temporary increases in airborne particles can damage brain health, research suggests

Short-term air pollution, cognitive performance and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug use in the Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study by Xu Gao, Brent Coull, Xihong Lin, Pantel Vokonas, Avron Spiro 3rd, Lifang Hou, Joel Schwartz and Andrea A. Baccarelli, May 3, 2021, Nature Aging (2021)


Air pollution, especially fine particulate matter (PM2.5), may impair cognitive performance1,2,3, but its short-term impact is poorly understood. We investigated the short-term association of PM2.5 with the cognitive performances of 954 white males measured as global cognitive function and Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) scores and further explored whether taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) could modify their relationships. Higher short-term exposure to PM2.5 demonstrated nonlinear negative associations with cognitive function. Compared with the lowest quartile of the 28-d average PM2.5 concentration, the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quartiles were associated with 0.378, 0.376 and 0.499 unit decreases in global cognitive function score, 0.484, 0.315 and 0.414 unit decreases in MMSE score and 69, 45 and 63% greater odds of low MMSE scores (≤25), respectively. Such adverse effects were attenuated in users of NSAIDs compared to nonusers. This study elucidates the short-term impacts of air pollution on cognition and warrants further investigations on the modifying effects of NSAIDs.

Encana/Ovintiv drilling under my already frac’d-impacted land. My property line follows the grassland; my dangerously explosive water well is in the barn with green metal roof (my house is to the left of the barn, not visible in photo)

Photos above: Oil, gas and frac patch pollution in Alberta. Hold your breath 24/7.

Air pollution spikes may impair older men’s thinking, study finds, Even short, temporary increases in airborne particles can damage brain health, research suggests by Ian Simple, May 3, 2021, The Guardian

Temporary rises in air pollution may impair memory and thinking in older men, according to research that indicates even short-term spikes in airborne particles can be harmful to brain health.

Scientists found that the men’s cognitive performance fell following rises in air pollution during the month before testing, even when peak levels remained below safety thresholds for toxic air set by the World Health Organization and national regulators.

The findings build on growing evidence that exposure to fine particulate matter in the air, largely from road vehicles and industry, is harmful not only to the heart and lungs, but also to delicate neural tissues in the brain.

Researchers in the US and China compiled multiple cognitive test scores from nearly 1,000 men living in the Greater Boston area and checked them against local levels of PM2.5s – airborne particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres across. The men involved in the study were white and had an average age of 69.

Writing in Nature Aging, the scientists describe how higher levels of PM2.5s up to four weeks before testing were linked to poorer cognitive performance on tasks ranging from word memory to number recall and verbal fluency. The effect was clear even when concentrations of PM2.5s stayed below 10 micrograms per cubic metre, the WHO guideline level which is routinely breached in London and many other cities.

Intriguingly, the study found evidence that test scores were less affected by short-term rises in air pollution if the men were taking aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, known as NSAIDs. “Our study indicates that short-term air pollution exposure may be related to short-term alterations in cognitive function and that NSAIDs may modify this relationship,” the authors write. According to one line of thinking, such painkillers may help by reducing inflammation that is triggered by fine particles getting into the brain.

While the WHO says levels of PM2.5s should not exceed an annual mean of 10 micrograms per cubic metre, the UK has adopted a higher limit of 25 micrograms per cubic metre. The government’s air quality index regards PM2.5 levels below 35 micrograms per cubic metre as “low”.

Last month, Philip Barlow, the inner south London coroner who concluded that air pollution was a cause of the death of nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah, said the UK must adopt lower legally binding levels for particulate air pollution.

The impact of toxic air on respiratory and cardiovascular health is well-established and evidence for damage to the brain is mounting. Studies have linked air pollution to reduced intelligence and dementia. In February, work led by Prof Jamie Pearce at Edinburgh University found that exposure to air pollution in childhood was linked to poorer thinking skills in later life.

“The findings really stress the impact that air pollution is having on human health,” said Dr Joanne Ryan, head of biological neuropsychiatry and dementia research at Monash University in Melbourne, who was not involved in the latest work. “The importance of this study is that the findings align with a potential causal link of air pollution on brain function and they suggest that it is not just the very high levels of prolonged pollution that are concerning. The study found that even relatively low levels of air pollution can negatively impact cognitive function, and over possibly short periods of time.”


Above two photos: A frac field (dominated by Encana/Ovintiv) in “Beautiful” BC.

To breath or not to breath?


Refer also to:

Darcy Lindberg@Darcy13Lindberg (law prof U of Alberta), May 3, 3021:

I was born here. There has always been a large anti-science segment, in relation to their own ideology and any facts that would get in the way of making money. Think about the dialogue over climate change and the tar sands. We’re reaping what’s been sown in AB for generations.

Timothy Caulfield@CaulfieldTim (Prof health, law and science policy), May 3, 2021:


– a chaotic/polarized pandemic response

– highest vaccine hesitancy

– “most likely to say they have shared false news”

– “least informed about what is going on with #COVID19 cc @UbakaOgbogu

Sometimes correlation matters.

constant-asparagus@constantaspara1 May 3, 2021:

We can do better. I know what you mean, having lived here for decades, but this reminds me of “boys will be boys.” We can say that this is not acceptable, even in Alberta. Now we just need a competent government to do the same.

Ryan Jespersen@ryanjespersen , 2021:

These jerks spit in the face of so many fellow Albertans who’ve sacrificed so much over the past year. They dance on the graves of the 2083 who’ve died, and the thousands more that’ll carry scars for life. This is Jason Kenney’s Alberta…and that’s not a compliment. #RodeoClowns

Timm Bruch@TimmCTV, May 2, 2021:

As the “No More Lockdowns” rodeo gets set for day two, our requests for comment to Premier Kenney and area MLA Dreeshen are still unanswered. RCMP are well aware there’s another day planned…we’ll have to wait to see if they enforce any rules.

Thousands flock to ‘No More Lockdowns’ rodeo in rural Alberta

Martin Z. Olszynski@molszyns (Associate Prof U Calgary, Env and Nat Resources Law) , 2021:

Not an exact science but if 2000 #rodeoclowns (+ 100s of anti-mask rally-goers b4 them) can break rules w/ impunity, then shldn’t the 1000s of Albertans who enjoy Kananaskis refuse to pay the new $90 fee, b/c feelings or whatever? That’s how the law works now, right? #RealTalkRJ

lemonmartini@tracykbo, May 3, 3021:

But at least we got our rodeo…..

Amir Attaran@profamirattaran (prof of law and medicine, U Ottawa), May 3, 2021

Intelligent animals ridden by yahoos. If only you could lasso the virus, eh?

Alberta Health Services explores legal options after hundreds attend rodeo, Rodeo was billed as an anti-lockdown event in a province with more than 22,000 active COVID-19 cases by CBC News with files from Erin Collins and the Canadian Press

… The rodeo was billed as an anti-lockdown event, despite the fact Alberta has not experienced a strict lockdown during the pandemic. In-store retail is permitted, while dine-in service is closed restaurant patios remain open and outdoor gatherings are allowed for groups numbering less than 10.

Alberta’s hospital system is bracing for a massive surge of patients and some regions have scaled back surgeries to prepare.

The province currently has the highest active case rate in either Canada or the U.S., and the current active COVID-19 case total stands at 22,920, its highest ever. …

Attendees at the event told CBC News they believe the pandemic is a “scamdemic” and that COVID-19 is a “flu” that is not serious. Despite pandemic restrictions, more than 2,000 Albertans have died of COVID-19 while around 30-50 Albertans die each year of the flu.

Dr. Stephanie Smith, an infectious diseases physician at the University of Alberta Hospital, said she would not describe the restrictions in place as particularly restrictive.

“I think that there is a bit of a sense of frustration on the part of health-care workers who are seeing large gatherings of crowds that are not being broken up … they’re going to need hospital care and ICU care and it’s just going to stress the system more.” 

Smith said she believes if there had been more consistent messaging from the government on how restrictions work, the rules might have been adhered to more rigorously. …

The rodeo had been advertised since March. It took place on private land after the town’s agricultural society revoked its permit.

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley said the government had plenty of time to act to prevent a potentially dangerous event from happening.

“We had good notice that it was happening and nobody did anything about it,” she said.

The rodeo wasn’t the only large event in Alberta breaking public health mandates this weekend.

Street Church Ministries has continued to breach public health orders by holding large services and protests. AHS said church leader Artur Pawlowski has continued to deny inspectors access to his building, instead using abusive language, bullying and directing racist slurs at AHS staff.

AHS has obtained an order for entry to the church’s location; it said legal steps, like that order, take time to process through the court system.

The organizers behind this weekend’s rodeo say they plan to hold another event on Canada Day.

Adelheid~TeamAZ@Adelheid_SCA May 3, 2021:

OMG I never realized the Emergency Management Cabinet Committee was like a laundry list of the most ineffective MLA’s in the UCP caucus. So much makes sense now.

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