• Study Finds Significant Link Between Neurological Disorders and PM<sub>2.5</sub> 
    Professor Ken Yung Kin-lam (right) and Dr Fu Pengfei, Postdoctoral Research Fellow of the Department of Biology of HKBU. Credit HKBU

News & Views

Study Finds Significant Link Between Neurological Disorders and PM2.5 

Sep 06 2021

A comprehensive, systematic meta-analysis conducted by HKBU scientists found a significant association between exposure to PM2.5, i.e., fine particulates with equivalent diameters of less than 2.5 microns suspended in the air, and neurological disorders. These include stroke, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

The paper [1] with the study’s finding was published in the academic journal Science of the Total Environment, and has become the top 1% highly-cited paper worldwide by citation in the field of Environment and Ecology, according to Essential Science Indicators (ESI).

The HKBU research team, led by Professor Ken Yung Kin-lam, Professor of the Department of Biology of the University, analysed a total of 1,645 articles published by June 2018, and identiï¬Âed 80 eligible studies that covered a population of more than 6.33 million from 26 countries or regions in all continents except Antarctica.

The results revealed that exposure to PM2.5 in general increases the risks of stroke and stroke mortality, with the risk associated with long-term exposure more significant than with short-term exposure. It also showed that the risk of stroke in heavily polluted areas is higher than that in lightly polluted areas. They also revealed that PM2.5 exposure is strongly associated with increased risks of Alzheimer’s disease, ASD, Parkinson’s disease and dementia.


“While various hypotheses were suggested on the underlying mechanisms of how PM2.5 causes different types of neurological disorders, it remains an area with many unknowns for biomedical scientists to explore. More vigorous research endeavours are required before we can fully understand the mechanisms, based on which we can formulate effective environmental and public health strategies in response,” said Professor Yung.

More information online

1. The association between PM2.5 exposure and neurological disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis was published in Science of the Total Environment

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