Air pollutants can, a study by Lancaster University suggests. The phenomenon has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
Air pollution, a common occurrence in busy cities like Bangkok and Singapore, is a bane for those with respiratory conditions.
A recent study by Lancaster University suggests that these pollutants do not just clog airways – they have found their way into the human brain.
In the study, researchers analysed the brain tissue of 37 individuals from Mexico City and Manchester, who were between the ages of three and 92.
Magnetite nanoparticles, which causes free radicals to form in the human brain, were “abundant,” the university said in a press release.
The phenomenon has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, but the university said that more research was needed on that front.
“The particles we found are strikingly similar to the magnetite nanospheres that are abundant in the airborne pollution found in urban settings, especially next to busy roads, and which are formed by combustion or frictional heating from vehicle engines or brakes,” said Professor Barbara Maher of the Lancaster Environment Centre.
“Our results indicate that magnetite nanoparticles in the atmosphere can enter the human brain, where they might pose a risk to human health, including conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease,” she added.
CNBC reported that the study’s findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Observers said that more information was needed, to establish a relationship between exposure to air pollutants and Alzheimer’s disease.
“This magnetite is generally thought to come from iron found naturally in the brain and there is no strong evidence to suggest that it causes Alzheimer’s disease or makes it worse,” said Alzheimer’s Society research manager Clare Walton.
“Further work in this area is important, but until we have more information people should not be unduly worried,” she said.
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