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Air Pollution and Stroke Risk: Urban Greenery Could be the Solution

New research finds that exposure to fine particulate pollution can impact brain health, but urban greenery may offer protection.

With the rapid urbanization and increasing air pollution in many parts of the world, the impact of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) on human health has become a major concern. A new study has shed light on a previously overlooked area of health risk – the link between air pollution and stroke risk. Researchers found that exposure to PM2.5 can affect blood flow to the brain, a critical factor in stroke risk. However, the study also provides hope by revealing that urban greenery can mitigate these risks, making it a potential solution for reducing damage to brain health.

The Study

The research, conducted by scientists from the Beijing Health Management Cohort, aimed to explore the effects of PM2.5 and its various chemical constituents on the progression of cerebral blood flow velocity (BFV) in the middle cerebral artery. The study recruited participants who underwent transcranial Doppler sonography examinations between 2015 and 2020. Linear mixed effects models and weighted quantile sum regression were employed to analyze the data, while greenness in the surroundings was examined as a potential modifier.

The Findings

The study revealed significant negative associations between PM2.5 and its constituents and the progression of cerebral artery BFV. Among the various PM2.5 constituents, organic matter (OM) exhibited the strongest association with the decline in blood flow velocity. An increase in PM2.5 and OM exposure concentrations was associated with a decrease in BFV change and BFV change rate. This indicates a greater and faster reduction in blood flow to the brain, which is a known risk factor for stroke.

Moreover, the study found that greenness in the environment played a crucial role in modifying the association between PM2.5 and BFV progression. Areas with more urban greenery had better health outcomes, as the presence of vegetation helped reduce air pollution, and subsequently, mitigated the adverse effects on cerebrovascular health.

Who's at Risk?

The research also identified certain vulnerable groups. The negative associations between PM2.5 and BFV progression were particularly pronounced in individuals working in areas with lower greenness levels, individuals aged under 45 years, and females. Younger people, especially those who are physically active, may be more exposed to air pollution, increasing their susceptibility to its adverse effects.

Implications and Solutions

Cerebrovascular diseases, including stroke, have been associated with air pollution in previous studies. This new research highlights the importance of understanding the impact of PM2.5 on cerebral hemodynamics, which may explain the mechanisms behind air pollution-induced cerebrovascular diseases.

The study's findings hold significant implications for public health and urban planning. Reducing PM2.5 levels in the air, especially the OM constituent, should be a priority for policymakers to protect cerebrovascular health. Additionally, investing in urban greenery and improving green spaces can provide an effective means of mitigating the risks posed by air pollution. By trapping particulate matter and absorbing pollutants, plants act as natural air purifiers and create healthier living environments for residents.


Air pollution is a serious global health concern, and its association with stroke risk adds urgency to the need for effective mitigation strategies. The latest research emphasizes the crucial role of green spaces in protecting brain health from the detrimental effects of PM2.5. By promoting urban greenery and controlling air pollution, cities can take significant steps towards ensuring a healthier and safer future for their residents.

Source of this study is published on GeoHealth. Summary News is written by PR News Releaser.

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