How is the Brain Damaged by Exposure to Traffic Related Air Pollution?

The Polluted Brain – Evidence Builds that Dirty Air Causes Alzheimer’s, Dementia (AAAS Science, Emily UnderwoodJan. 26, 2017)

Also discussed here: Particulate Air Pollutants and White Matter Brain Aging (Abstract, Jiu-Chiuan Chen, Xinhui Wang, Mark A. Espeland, Helena Chui, Alzheimer’s and Dementia, Jul. 2014)
And here: Traffic-related air pollution and brain development (21 page pdf, Nicholas Woodward, Caleb E. Finch and Todd E. Morgan , AIMS Environmental Science. May 6, 2015)

Today we review a series of research articles that reaffirm the health risks presented to people (and mice) who breathe in air polluted by vehicles and containing ultra-fine particles, in particular. Signs of memory loss and Alzheimer’s are evident in mice exposed to UFP. Levels of fine air particles within 50 m of  major roadways are 10 times higher than at 150 m and those within 50 m stand a 12% higher risk of developing dementia. Tests involving prenatal mice showed that fetal damage can be done by fine particles without entering the placenta. The closer people live to major roadways, the smaller their celebral brain volume. What more do city planners and public health officials need to know about running highways and traffic through cities?

brain-pollution

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Impact of Nanoparticulates from Traffic Emissions on Viral Lung Infection

Nanoparticle exposure reactivates latent herpesvirus and restores a signature of acute infection (19 page pdf, Christine Sattler, Franco Moritz, Shanze Chen, Beatrix Steer, David Kutschke, Martin Irmler, Johannes Beckers, Oliver Eickelberg, Philippe Schmitt-Kopplin, Heiko Adler and Tobias Stoeger, Particle and Fibre Toxicology, Jan. 10, 2017)

Also discussed here: Nanoparticle exposure can awaken dormant viruses in the lungs (ScienceDaily, Jan. 17, 2017)

Today we review a lab experiment on cells in mice that examined the impact of exposure to nanoparticles (NP). Results indicate that these nanoparticles can “reawaken” latent herpes viruses in the lung by weakening the immune system and allowing viruses to invade the host cell. The researchers would like to examine if these results can be transferred to humans and if so, if exposure to emissions from combustion and traffic-related emissions suggest another serious impact.

nanoparticles-and-virus

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Living Close to Traffic and the Risk of Dementia

Living close to major roads linked to small increase in dementia risk (Abstract, the Lancet, Jan.4, 2017)

Also discussed here: Living near major roads is associated with increased dementia risk, study finds (Susan Mayor, The British Medical Journal, Jan. 5, 2017)

And here: Living near major traffic linked to higher risk of dementia (Public Health Ontario, Jan. 4, 2017)

And here: Does Living by a Busy Road Boost Dementia Risk? Exposure to heavy traffic tied to cognitive decline (Alexandria Bachert , MedPage Today, Jan. 4, 2017)

Today we review a study with over 6.5 million people living in Ontario that examined the impact of living near high traffic roadways and the incidence of dementia, the first time such a study has been conducted in Canada. Results indicate a 7 percent higher risk for those who live within 50m (half a city block)compared to those who live more than 200 m from these roadways who have no higher risk. The specific pollutants found responsible include PM2.5 and NO2. Interesting that other neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis were found to not have a higher risk.

dementia

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Do Trees in Cities Help or Harm Our Health?

Air pollution: outdoor air quality and health (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, Dec.1, 2016)

Also discussed here: Trees could make urban pollution even worse (quartz, Dec.6, 2016)

And here: Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center (Nature, Scientific Reports, Jul. 9, 2015)

Today we review a guide about urban air pollution that looks into the role that street trees play with respect to reducing air pollution. The overall conclusion was that trees are unlikely to reduce air pollution and could add to it, especially if the trees reduce ventilation of air currents. This is true also of the more recent use of green walls. It is also acknowledged [in a Toronto study]that urban trees can improve health – as much as a $10,000 raise or feeling 7 years younger. Pine trees are singled out as a particular contributer to urban pollution through their emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) which combine with the NO2 in car emissions to produce low level ozone, one of a handful of pollutants harmful to health.

tree-area-toronto

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How Does Air Pollution Accelerate Aging?

Long-term exposure to air pollution is associated with biological aging (16 page pdf, Cavin K. Ward-Caviness, Jamaji C. Nwanaji-Enwerem, Kathrin Wolf, Simone Wahl, Elena Colicino, Letizia Trevisi, Itai Kloog, Allan C. Just, Pantel Vokonas, Josef Cyrys, Christian Gieger, Joel Schwartz, Andrea A. Baccarelli, Alexandra Schneider and Annette Peters, Oncotarget, Oct. 25, 2016)

Also discussed here: Telomere (Wikipedia)

Today we review research conducted with older men and women (median age 74) where several measures of aging and old age illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and cognitive  abilities, were studied including chromosome characteristics (telomere length) and immune cell counts. Results indicate that air pollution exposure over a long time can damage the DNA, alter immune cell counts and add to oxidative stress with greater impact on men than women.

Telomere

Telomere (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Tire and Brake Share of Traffic-Related Air Pollution

Air pollution: Tyre and brake fatigue compound an exhausting problem (OECD, Shayne MacLachlan, OECD Environment Directorate, Sep.8, 2016)

Today we review research into the impact of particles generated from tires and brake wear. The amount of particulate matter for an average urban arterial road with 25K vehicles per day can produce up to 9 kg of dust per km- bigger roads or highways with 100K VPD can produce four times that. Recycled tires from the billion cars in the road globally into materials used in playgrounds is being called the new asbestos. Banning petrol powered cars from cities to encourage e-cars and cycling means less emissions from the tailpipe and good for carbon emission reduction but it also means the same wear and particles from brakes and tires, in terms of air pollution and health, even from bicycles!

Studded tyre Español: Neumático de invierno co...

Studded tyre Español: Neumático de invierno con clavos, modelo Nokian Hakkapeliitta 4 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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The Future of the World and Cities in It

Urban futures: anticipating a world of cities (6 page pdf, Geci Karuri-Sebina, Karel-Herman Haegeman and Apiwat Ratanawaraha, Foresight, Sep. 10, 2016)

Today we review an introduction to a series of papers on cities from a foresight point of view. It begins with a prediction that the city has evolved from the city-state in Ancient Greece to city-worlds in the next 100 years. By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in urban areas, compared to 54% today. While cities can improve economic prosperity, reducing poverty and becoming more inclusive socially, there are also downside risks of unemployment and poverty, as well as tensions based on religion, race and values – in addition to the major health threats that resulting congestion and emissions from downtown traffic where city government has not taken steps to alleviate. While cities are good at generating problems they also have a problem solving capability. The paper ends on an optimistic note: “In a world that increasingly appears ungovernable, cities – not states – are the islands of governance on which the future world order will be built”- something that those who try to come to grips with climate change and urban air pollution need to acknowledge and take count of in reducing carbon emissions and adapting to the challenge.

Indoor and Built Environment

Indoor and Built Environment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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