Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Brian Duistermars

Reader 2

Donald McFarlane

Rights Information

@ 2022 Alexandra A Richtsmeier


Neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia, affect over 50 million people worldwide and are projected to increase by 68% by the year 2050 (Guo et al., 2020). Although the factors contributing to the development and severity of these diseases are poorly understood, recent research suggests a correlation between increases in exposure to ambient air pollution, specifically fine particulate matter, and neurodegeneration. The microscopic size of particulate matter allows it to penetrate deep into the lung tissue and eventually into the central nervous system, creating an inflammatory response throughout the body and brain. Once inflammation reaches the brain, also referred to as neuroinflammation, the pathogenic mechanisms primarily responsible for neurodegeneration, such as amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles, are enhanced. In disadvantaged socio-economic communities, individuals are exposed to over 40% more pollution compared to middle- and upper-class citizens (Boyd-Barrett, 2019). Consequently, these disparities in pollution distribution are exceedingly harmful and have led to an increase in premature deaths within these communities from particulate matter related illnesses. Without the implementation of social and environmental regulations, the inequalities these communities experience as a result of pollution distribution will further worsen.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.