Pesticides, Air Quality, & EMFs – What are the Environmental Risk Factors for Alzheimer’s?

Environmental Risk Factors for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease 

The best understood and most known risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia (including Lewy body dementia) is simply aging. Other environmental risk factors have been identified but they are poorly understood at this point. More research is needed to expand the current knowledge base of the correlation between environmental exposures and the development of neurodegeneration. 

A large review conducted by the University of Southern California synthesizes the conclusions of almost 5,000 studies on the environmental risk factors of dementia and Alzheimer’s. See the results of this review below! 

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BayView Senior Assisted Living in Point Loma is a senior care community in Southern California. We understand that our residents’ holistic experience of life (social, spiritual, emotional, mental, physical) is incredibly important. Our compassionate caregivers provide top-notch, individualized care to each of the members of our memory care communities. Are you looking for assisted living, respite care, or hospice care accommodations near you? Look no further than BayView Senior Assisted Living.  

Environmental Factors that might Increase Your Risk for Developing Alzheimer’s Disease 

USC’s school of medicine conducted a large-scale review of almost 5,000 research studies on the connections between environmental factors and the development of Alzheimer’s disease. While more is known about lifestyle and diet factors in connection with Alzheimer’s, there is still much research that’s needed to better understand the exogenous aspects of neurodegeneration. That being said, certain external factors have been identified as having a strong correlation to developing Alzheimer’s. 


Air quality, specifically air pollution in areas of lower socioeconomic status has been identified as a strong risk factor for Alzheimer’s. One researcher proposes that exposure to high amounts of air pollution can shift the onset of the disease earlier by 10 years! Researchers suggest that this is clear in the literature now but has not been studied extensively enough. 

In addition to outdoor air quality, exposure to cigarette smoke and household toxins and gases may also be contributing factors for developing Alzheimer’s. Indoor air pollution can come from things like adhesives in building materials, carbon monoxide from miniscule gas pipe leaks, or secondhand smoke.


The evidence linking a wide variety of occupational exposures and Alzheimer’s disease tends to be weak. The two job related exposures that had the strongest amount of evidence were solvents and certain pesticides. There seems to be no evidence that exposure to dyes, inks, plastics, or diesel fuels increase Alzheimer’s risk. 


Exposure to six toxic metals have been correlated to the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease and neuroinflammation: aluminum, mercury, lead, cadmium, iron and manganese. Aluminum is the most commonly found toxic metal in the brains of Alzheimer patients.


One interesting study out of Switzerland found that living close to power lines for over 15 years doubled the risk of mortality from Alzheimer’s disease. Studies on job related electromagnetic field exposure have had mixed results. More research is certainly needed on EMF exposure and neurodegeneration risk as Wifi and cell phone use becomes more and more ubiquitous throughout the world.

Top Senior Assisted Living Community with a Holistic Approach Care 

Holistic memory care is defined as engaging a patient’s body, mind, and spirit. From knowing about a resident’s wellness to physical health to hobbies, interests, and more, caring for the whole person starts with taking the time to understand them as an individual. For those with Alzheimer’s, knowing who they were before is just as important as knowing who they are now. 

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At BayView Senior Assisted Living (and at our partner locations, Mesa View Senior Assisted Living and Harbor View Senior Assisted Living) our compassionate, highly competent staff provide holistic care to each member of our memory care communities.