New Delhi: Air pollution poses a major threat to human health. The polluted air in both cities and rural areas is causing fine particulate matter, which results in strokes, heart diseases, lung cancer, and acute and chronic respiratory diseases, among others. There are several sources of air pollution, including vehicle pollution, construction, waste burning and much more.
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A recent study conducted at the University of California, showed that exposure to traffic-related air pollution causes memory loss, cognitive decline, and the activation of brain pathways linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. The study’s results are published in the journal Toxicological Sciences.
Masashi Kitazawa, PhD, associate professor of environmental and occupational health in the UCI Programme in Public Health, and the senior author of the study, said,
The link between air pollution and Alzheimer’s disease is concerning, as the prevalence of toxicants in ambient air is not just on the rise globally, but also hitting close to home here in Irvine.
The effects of particulate matter on brain function are not limited to what our studies show.
Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia among the elderly and is a growing public health crisis in the U.S. as well as in several other countries. Despite extensive research on all aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, its exact origins remain elusive. Although genetic predispositions are known to play a prominent role in disease progression, growing bodies of evidence suggest that environmental toxicants, specifically air pollution, may cause the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Mr. Kitazawa and his team compared mouse models at two ages. Researchers exposed a group of three- to nine-month-old mouse models to ultrafine particulate matter for 12 weeks via ambient air collected in Irvine. A second group was exposed to purified air. The differing ages were used to determine the potential impact of particulate matter exposure during highly vulnerable life stages: developing youth and the elderly.
Researchers conducted testing related to memory tasks and cognitive function and found that both benchmarks were impaired by exposure to particulate matter. Notably, they also discovered that their older models (12 months at the time of analysis) showed brain plaque buildup and glial cell activation, which are both known to increase inflammation associated with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Co-author Michael Kleinman, PhD, adjunct professor of environmental and occupational health in UCI’s Programme in Public Health.
Air pollution is one of the very few prominent, modifiable environmental risk factors in Alzheimer’s disease. Public and environmental regulatory agencies need to accelerate efforts to reduce particulate matter levels in order to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other serious health conditions.
Mr. Kitazawa added,
This evidence is alarming, and it’s imperative that we take action to adopt effective and evidence-based regulations, spread awareness about lifestyle changes, and work together to improve our air quality.
Another study published by the scientists in Hiroshima, in the February issue of Particle and Fibre Toxicology, stated that air pollution influences the prognosis of ischemic stroke, or stroke caused by a decrease in blood supply to the brain, but its mechanism is unknown. The scientists recently conducted a study to determine whether increased inflammation in the brain, also known as neuroinflammation, is to blame.
Yasuhiro Ishihara, senior author of the research paper and professor in the Graduate School of Integrated Sciences for Life at Hiroshima University, said,
We designed this study to determine the effects of air pollution on disorders in the central nervous system. Our narrower focus was to determine whether or not the prognosis of ischemic stroke was affected by air pollution.
The group went one step further by identifying specific components of air pollution that may directly contribute to lower prognoses in ischemic stroke.
They found evidence that intranasal exposure to air pollution from Beijing, China, increased neuroinflammation after ischemic stroke in mice through activation of microglial cells, which are immune cells found in the brain. Movement disorder was also negatively impacted in ischemic stroke mice exposed to the same air pollution.
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(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ population, indigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental wellbeing, self care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.