What are the effects of air pollution on your health?

June 24, 2022  23:44

Breathing in polluted air can lead to toxic particles entering the brain - and not just through the nose.

New research shows they have a direct route through the bloodstream, potentially contributing to brain disorders and neurological damage.

"There are gaps in our knowledge around the harmful effects of airborne fine particles on the central nervous system. This work sheds new light on the link between inhaling particles and how they subsequently move around the body," said study co-author Iseult Lynch, a professor at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom.

"The data suggests that up to eight times the number of fine particles may reach the brain by traveling, via the bloodstream, from the lungs than pass directly via the nose -- adding new evidence on the relationship between air pollution and detrimental effects of such particles on the brain," she said in a university news release.

Inhaled particles can enter the bloodstream after crossing the air-blood barrier. They eventually reach the brain. This can cause damage to the brain-blood barrier and surrounding tissues. When these particles reach the brain, they stay there longer than in other major metabolic organs, Lynch and her colleagues say.

In this study, international scientists found various small particles in human cerebrospinal fluid taken from patients who had suffered brain disorders.

The scientists emphasize that the latest findings suggest a strong link between high levels of air pollution and pronounced neuroinflammation, Alzheimer's-like changes, and cognitive problems in older adults and even children.

Air pollution is full of toxic components, but experts are most concerned about particulate matter. Ultrafine particles can elude the body's defense systems, including immune cells and biological barriers.

Researchers said the findings provide new evidence of the risk of particulate contamination of the central nervous system.

Follow NEWS.am Medicine on Facebook and Twitter

  • Video
  • Event calendar
  • Archive