Can air pollution cause brain damage?

This article was published on: 09/9/16

Research led by Lancaster University has recently revealed there could be a link between air pollution and brain damage over time (particularly as a cause of illnesses including Alzheimer’s).

Toxic nanoparticles found

Lancaster University researches have for the first time found a selection of toxic nanoparticles lodged inside human brains. The brains studied were from people aged 3 to 92 who lived in Mexico and Manchester. The importance of this find is the possible link with exposure to these toxic particles and the development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

Researches found a particular particle abundant in the brains called magnetite (which is considered toxic to humans). Magnetite does occur naturally in the body but the striking difference between that and those lodged in the brains was that they (unlike natural magnetite particles) were spherical rather than angular and sized differently to those produced by humans.

The discovery has led to questions regarding exposure to this type of particle. In an interview with the Guardian, Professor Barbera Maher, head of the research, said:

“This is a discovery finding, and now what should start is a whole new examination of this as a potentially very important environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease. Now there is a reason to go on and do the toxicity testing, because these particles are so prolific and people are exposed to them.”

The research while not conclusive has opened up to new questions and given scientists cause to look into whether polluted cities and environments could be a risk to humans within them.

Pollution problems?

The discovery brings worry for those in cities with high pollution. Industrial cities in the UK like Birmingham, Burnley, Sunderland and Blackburn could all see residents at risk from factory smoke, car exhausts and other pollution.

In Beijing, there has already been unrest over the thickness of the smog over the city which has previously caused the city to shut down, closing schools, factories and roads to try and clear the air.

Despite countries pledging to reduce carbon footprints and in some cases attempt carbon neutrality status, if a link is found following further research, it could require governments to rapidly find ways to combat air pollution and reduce risk of brain injuries faster than originally intended.

While it is difficult to pinpoint exact responsibility, in a legal environment it could be problematic for manufacturers and local authorities who cause/allow air pollution and put local lives at risk.

Life altering

Brain injuries are some of the most serious injury types we deal with at Scott Rees & Co. Often we find that progressive brain injuries like neurodegenerative diseases usually come from exposure to chemicals and spores. They often impact more lives than just the person injured.

Often a neurodegenerative disease affects cognitive functions and memory. This can in turn put a lot of emotional strain on a family who usually end up looking after the affected person which could mean taking time off work, leaving work or contributing to the cost of care.

With brain injuries, we often assemble an expert team to help plan care, rehabilitation, counselling and financial assistance for the sufferer and their family. When it comes to serious injuries it is never just 1 person who bears the brunt of injury.

If you’d like to talk to one of our advisers on what Scott Rees & Co can do for a serious injury, be it brain injury or otherwise, then call us on 01695 722 222 for free, impartial, confidential advice. Alternatively you can use our web contact form here.

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