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How Living Close To A Busy Road Can Lead To Mental Disorder

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According to a scientific research carried out by some Canadian scientists, it has been discovered that those living close to busy traffic roads are prone to having dementia, a chronic or persistent disorder of the mental processes caused by brain disease or injury and marked by memory disorders, personality changes, and impaired reasoning.

The 10 years population based research investigates the relationship between living very close to busy traffic roads where air and noise pollution are very common, and mental disorder such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis.

Method of the Research

The research is made available on The Lancet Journal. The researchers assembled two population-based cohorts including all adults aged 20–50 years (about 4·4 million; multiple sclerosis cohort) and all adults aged 55–85 years (about 2·2 million; dementia or Parkinson’s disease cohort) who resided in Ontario, Canada on April 1, 2001. Eligible patients were free of these neurological diseases; Ontario residents for 5 years or longer, and Canadian-born.

The researchers ascertained the individual’s proximity to major roadways based on their residential postal-code address in 1996, 5 years before cohort inception. Incident diagnoses of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis were ascertained from provincial health administrative databases with validated algorithms. They assessed the associations between traffic proximity and incident dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis using Cox proportional hazards models, adjusting for individual and contextual factors such as diabetes, brain injury, and neighbourhood income. They did various sensitivity analyses, such as adjusting for access to neurologists and exposure to selected air pollutants, and restricting to never movers and urban dwellers.

Research Finding

Finding however brings a shocking revelation that living close to heavy traffic was associated with a higher incidence of dementia.

A busy Lagos Road

A busy Lagos Road

Nigeria in Focus

Narrowing it down to developing countries such as Nigeria and other African countries: although the research was conducted by Canadians and in Canada, we can always use it as parameter or sample for our bustling cities.

A CNN report in May 2016 on Nigeria says four of the world’s most polluted cities are in the country, going by the data released by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The cities are Onitsha, ranked as the world’s most polluted city for air quality, when measuring small particulate matter concentration (PM10). The other three Nigerian cities are Kaduna, Aba and Umuahia and they ranked 5th, 6th and 16th respectively.

Because majority of these cities are commercial centers bevy with much economic activities, residents are forced to either live very close to heavy traffic roads or work there where they spend most of the time.

Lagos in Focus

Lagos is the economic nerve of Nigeria, and the most populated city in Africa. A typical day in Lagos is spent in heavy traffic where commuters and other road users spend hours.

Also, most cars in Lagos are Tokunbo, a local parlance for used or second-hand – sometimes third-hand – cars. Already, most of these cars have peaked their utility level and their function become hazardous to the environment. Sight of vehicle bellowing heavy smoke into the air is a common one in Lagos, especially those powered by diesel.

Like most Nigerian cities, people hardly follow city plans when situating residential buildings in Lagos. Places such as Oshodi, Apapa, Agege, and other places that were particularly designed as industrial areas have seen influx of residential building springing up over the years; you see residential building and factory sharing same fence. No doubt, this will tell on the health of those living in these busy industrial areas.

The Sad Reality

One may not need to wait for a special report to know that cases of dementia or mental disorder is increasing becoming rampart in Nigeria, especially in Lagos. You see well-dressed people on the road but their sanity partially impaired.

A research carried out  by FRSC in 2015 among Lagos commercial bus drivers says over 50 per cent of them have one form of mental disorder. The cause of this can be easily linked to the time they spend on the road in traffic where they are exposed to the dangerous fumes from other vehicles and the blaring of horns which is the signature of most Lagos car owners.

Those living by the busy roads are also at the receiving end as they are exposed to the noise and air pollution from these vehicles.

Maybe if same scientific research done in Canada can be replicated in Lagos, then we will know the reason why everyone seems to be getting “mad” at the other person.

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