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 Do Air Pollution Alerts Affect Public Health Use?

Effects of an air pollution personal alert system on health service usage in a high-risk general population: a quasi-experimental study using linked data (7 page pdf, R A Lyons, S E Rodgers, S Thomas, R Bailey, H Brunt, D Thayer, J Bidmead, B A Evans, P Harold, M Hooper, H Snooks, J Epidemiol Community Health,  May 23, 2016)

Today we review an analysis of the reaction of an “intervention”  group of patients with air pollution- related illnesses (cardio-respiratory and COPD) to alerts produced by the UK’s airAware alert system over a two year period, as measured by visits to hospital emergency departments, compared to a control group which were not similarly afflicted. Results indicate a doubling of emergency admissions and four times the number of respiratory conditions for the intervention group compared to the control group. The authors conclude that some health interventions or alerts beyond a certain distribution level are harmful in terms of health service utilisation.

air-alerts

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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 Threat to Children’s Health from Air Pollution

Clear the air for children – The impact of air pollution on children (100 page pdf, Editor-In-Chief, David Anthony, UNICEF, Oct. 2016)

Also discussed here: A Staggering Number of the World’s Children Are Breathing Toxic Air   (Mother Jones, Oct. 31, 2016)

Today we review a report that documents the impact of indoor and outdoor pollution on the children of the world who are particularly vulnerable because, for their size,  they breathe more air than adults into lungs that are only beginning to develop. 300 million children live in areas with toxic air pollution and 2 billion live in areas where the air pollution exceeds minimum quality standards as set by the World Health Organization. Steps are recommended  (that apply to highly developed countries and cities as well as developing countries) to reduce this toll including less pollution indoors by using ventilation, better insulation to reduce fuel burning and cleaner stoves. Outdoors, situate schools and day cares away from traffic related pollution, replace private vehicle transportation with public transit, walking and cycling and monitor air pollution more carefully especially as it impacts child health.

unicef-air-pollution

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