Recent research, conducted by scientists from the University of California, Davis, adds to the body of research suggesting that there is a link between traffic-related air pollution and an increased risk of developing dementia.
For the study, a team of researchers exposed male and female rats to either filtered air or polluted air for up to 14 months. They drew the polluted air from the busy tunnel in real time and delivered it directly to the animals without any changes.
The researchers discovered that continual exposure to traffic-related air pollution accelerated and exacerbated traits relevant to Alzheimer’s disease both in the rats who were genetically susceptible to the condition and in wild-type rats.
Senior author of the study Dr. Pamela Lein, a professor of neurotoxicology: “Our study is relatively unique in that animals were exposed to ambient traffic-related air pollution in real time over the course of their lifetime, providing strong data to corroborate the epidemiologic data.”
A new study, conducted by scientists from Stanford University, suggests that exposure to air pollution in early childhood alters genes in a way that can lead to heart disease later in life.
For the study, researchers recruited children of Hispanic descent aged between 6 and 8 from Fresno, California. The city has the highest pollution levels due to industrial agriculture and wildfires.
The scientists estimated exposure to air pollution for 1 day, 1 week, and 1, 3, 6, and 12 months prior to each participant visit and compared them to health and demographics questionnaires, blood pressure readings, and blood samples.
The analysis of the available data showed that exposure to fine particulate known as PM2.5, carbon monoxide, and ozone over time is associated with an alteration of DNA molecules that can change their activity without changing their sequence, and this change in gene expression may be passed down to future generations.
New research, published in the journal Environmental Research, suggests that young adults and children exposed to air pollution have the markers of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and motor neuron disease in their brain stems.
For the study, a team of researchers examined material from 186 autopsies that took place between 2004 and 2008. The individuals’ age ranged from 11 months to 40 years.
In the brain stems, the scientists found markers not only Alzheimer’s disease but also Parkinson’s disease and motor neuron disease. These markers included growths of nerve cells and misformed proteins that had caused tangles and plaques.
Co-author of the study Prof. Maher from Lancaster University in the United Kingdom explains: “[i]t’s critical to understand the links between the nanoparticles you’re breathing in or swallowing and the impacts those metal-rich particles are then having on the different areas of your brain.”
In two studies, recently published in the journal Geographical Research, researchers analyzed air quality over many countries in the world and found that levels of nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution over China, Western Europe, and the US has significantly decreased, but at the same time, levels of surface ozone in China have increased.
For their studies, scientists used satellite measurements of air quality over countries that became major coronavirus epicenters: China, South Korea, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, and the US. They found that levels of pollution decreased by 40% over industrial areas of China, 20% over Belgium and Germany, and 19 to 40% in various areas of the United States.
At the same time, scientists report that with a 60% reduction in nitrogen dioxide and a 35% reduction in particulate matter, secondary pollutant surface ozone, which can cause severe health issues, such as pulmonary and cardiac disease, increased by 150–200%.
Lead researcher of one of the studies Guy Brasseur, an atmospheric scientist of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg, says: “It means that by just reducing the [nitrogen dioxide] and the particles, you won’t solve the ozone problem.”
A new study, published in Environmental Health Perspectives, suggests that exposure to ultrafine particles (UFP) of air pollution can be a trigger for heart attacks.
To investigate the link between UFP and nonfatal heart attacks, the team of researchers analyzed data from air pollution monitoring sites of Augsburg in Germany from 2005 to 2015. They also compared these data with the cases of nonfatal heart attacks in the city during the same period.
The first author of the study Kai Chen, Ph.D., assistant professor at Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, CT, says: “This study confirms something that has long been suspected — air pollution’s tiny particles can play a role in serious heart disease. This is particularly true within the first few hours of exposure. Elevated levels of UFP are a serious public health concern.”