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Funded Studies

Exposure to Ambient Air Pollution and Risk of Parkinson’s Disease

Study Rationale:
Ambient (outdoor) air pollution can increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases and death. Some evidence links ambient air pollution to higher risk of Parkinson’s disease. But current studies on this topic are limited by accuracy of exposure modelling and lack of long-term exposure data. In addition, the role of individual pollution components is uncertain. 

We hypothesize that (i) there may be sensitive time windows for air pollutant exposure in relation to risk of Parkinson’s disease, and (ii) the association may be driven by specific air pollutants. We will provide information on the importance, interaction and sensitive time windows of exposure to ambient air pollution components and risk of Parkinson’s disease.

Study Design:
We will link the already established Finnish Parkinson’s Disease Study (FINPARK), a unique nationwide nested case-control study, and over two decades’ time series of high-resolution air pollution data to investigate whether exposure to different components of ambient air pollution is related to higher risk of Parkinson’s disease. We have individual exposure history of 16-35 years for 22,189 people who received clinically confirmed diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease and their 148,009 matched controls. This approach combines traditional statistical methods with machine learning. We will investigate the role of short- and long-term exposure to individual components, as well as different exposure trajectories and harmful exposure pattern combinations.

Impact on Diagnosis/Treatment of Parkinson’s Disease:
A better understanding of environmental risk factors provides a target for delaying the onset and progression of Parkinson’s disease. It is also critical information for development of prevention strategies and environmental policies. Improvement of air quality has been shown to decrease mortality and hospital admissions. It could also have beneficial consequences for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease.

Next Steps for Development:
These findings are necessary for assessing the health impact of ambient air pollution. Results may lead to additional analysis to confirm associations and biological inquiries to understand the pathological impact of pollution exposure.


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