Health

Children subject to air pollution may suffer heart defects

Evidence has been collected which demonstrates how early exposure in life to dirty air leads to an alternation of the genes to the extent that this could trigger adult heart disease. This research has the potential to change the way medical experts assess the impact of the air children breathe. Such data can also lead to different clinical interventions.

The research focuses on the single cell level and looks at the process of gene regulation (the mechanisms that are used by cells to increase or decrease the production of specific gene products, in other words the process of turning genes on and off).

The finding came from a series of measurements, which included assessing continuous daily pollutant concentrations together with other forms of meteorological and geophysical data. Data was tracked across one year for each individual in the study. Information relating to study participants was drawn from health and demographics questionnaires, blood pressure readings and blood samples,.

Putting the two sets of data together enabled the researchers to assess the impact of air pollution upon health. Fine particles (PM2.5), carbon monoxide and ozone in the atmosphere was linked to an alteration of DNA molecules and to potential heart issues in particular. The potential increased as the duration of exposure, as measured in days or weeks, increased.

The Stanford University research appears in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. The research paper is: “Air pollution exposure is linked with methylation of immunoregulatory genes, altered immune cell profiles, and increased blood pressure in children.”

Outside in

In related air pollution research, a study finds that air pollution levels outdoors strongly correlate with pollution level inside. This is the result of an inquiry undertaken within a Salt Lake-area building. The scientists discovered that external pollution events, such as wildfires and general pollution levels can affect indoor air. This is one of the few studies that assesses long-term indoor air quality monitoring based on outdoor air measurements.

For example, records made during a wintertime inversion event showed that as the air quality outdoors reached U.S. standard orange and red levels, the indoor air quality was at a yellow level. This means that around 30 percent of the pollution levels outside were being recorded inside. Furthermore, these levels remains until the inversion cleared.

The finding appears in the journal Science of The Total Environment, in a research paper titled “Long-term analysis of the relationships between indoor and outdoor fine particulate pollution: A case study using research grade sensors.”



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