Toxic air pollutants found in lungs, brains of unborn babies
For the first time, some researchers have found out the noxious/toxic air pollutants in unborn babies, which were inhaled by the mother infect the foetus and ultimately affect the development of the baby.
Air Pollution can be defined as the release of pollutants into the air. These released pollutants are harmful to human health and the whole planet. Air pollution is high on the Global agenda and is widely recognised as a risk to both public health and environmental conditions. According to World Health Organization, every year nearly 7 million people died due to increasing air pollution around the world. Most of the air pollution comes from energy use and production.
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Air pollution is now the world’s fourth-largest risk factor for an early demise. The minute airborne particles in soot (ash), whether gaseous or solid, are especially dangerous. These can penetrate the lungs and bloodstream and damage, bronchitis, lead to heart attacks, and even hasten death.
Effects of Air Pollution
The effect of air pollution on the human body varies depending upon the types of pollutants, level of exposure, person’s health and other
factors. These are some of the pollutants causing different types of health-related problems and affecting the environment-
- SMOG AND SOOT: It causes asthma, emphysema, and other respiratory diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). It impacts the environment by reducing visibility and blocking sunlight, causing acid rain, and harming forests, wildlife, and agriculture.
- HAZARDOUS AIR POLLUTANTS: It causes cancer, and Non-cancer health effects including birth and developmental defects, skin, throat and eye irritation, headaches, and nerve and organ damage.
- GREENHOUSE GASES: It causes climate change by trapping heat, and they also contribute to respiratory disease from smog and air pollution.
- POLLEN AND MOLD: It causes allergies and asthma and also change climatic conditions.
Effect of toxic air pollutants on unborn
The Mother’s womb is considered the safest place for the unborn child. It carries oxygen and nutrients to the foetus and wastes products away from the foetus. It provides all types of necessary things for the development of the unborn. In another word, we can say it provides the safest environment for the survival of the unborn. But the increasing air pollution can kill the unborn even before they came into the world and also create some issues with pregnancy. This new research published in the journal Lancet Planetary health on toxic air pollutants found in unborn babies is not a small deal! In every sample of lung, liver and brain tissue, umbilical cord blood and placentas, air pollutants are found. The amount of air pollutants were seen to have correlation with the exposure of the mother to air pollution.
As we already know, polluted air cause premature births, low birth rate, increased miscarriage, disturbed brain development and many more. In 2018, air pollution particles were first detected in Placenta. Recently, for the first time, some researchers have found out that the toxic air pollutants inhaled by the mother infect the foetus and affect the development of the baby. These are found in the brain, liver, lungs and other vital organs of unborn babies before they have taken their first breath. Raising concerns over the exposure to pollution, the particles were found as early as the third trimester. Tiny particles of pollutants have also been found such as from smog in London to cross the blood-brain barrier. Billions have been found in the hearts of new city dwellers.
The toxic air pollutant is found in the form of nanoparticles which is known as black carbon. This Black carbon is found by researchers when they tried to figure out if soot particles can reach the fetus. During pregnancy exposure of the mother to particulate air pollution is the result of nanoparticles found in the unborn. In each cubic millimetre of tissue, thousands of black carbon particles are found.
According to Environment Protection Agency, Black Carbon is sooty black material which is mainly emitted by diesel engines, and gas engines. There are other sources also that burn fossil fuels like coal-fired power plants and many more. It causes inflammation in the body and also carries toxic chemicals.
A recent study shows that the number of black carbon particles passed on proportionally to the placenta and into the baby gets through the mother. The Unborn babies in the womb are directly exposed to black carbon air pollution particles by uncovering the mechanisms involved in health risks. The placenta is exposed to air pollution particles, but the nanoparticles cross into the foetus in the womb as early as the first trimester of pregnancy. There was no solid evidence that these particles enter the foetus.
SOME STATEMENTS RELATED TO INCREASING AIR POLLUTANT PARTICLES FOUND IN THE UNBORN BABIES
- Some sources said that “for the first time black carbon nanoparticles not only get into the first and second trimester placenta but also move into the organs of developing foetus”.
- Another source said that -“What is even more worrying is that these particles also get into the developing human brain”.
- “Seeing particles getting into the brain of foetuses raises the stakes because this potentially has lifelong consequences for the child,” the researcher said.
- “This means that it is possible for these nanoparticles to directly interact with control systems within human foetal organs and cells.”
Tips to reduce air pollution
- Minimize air pollution from cars & try to use public transportation
- Save energy and plant tree
- Consume fewer and choose sustainable products
- Minimize the use of fireplace and wood stove
- Try to avoid burning leaves, trashes and other stuff
- Produce organic, eat local and less meat
- Buy recycled products and recycle
- Raise awareness among the citizens
Health measure to save yourself from air pollution
- If you exercise outside try to stay as far as you can from heavily trafficked roads. Later shower and wash your clothes to remove fine particles.
- Avoid going outside when the levels of pollution are high.
- If the quality of the air is bad, then stay inside with windows closed.
- Always keep a small stock of masks to wear when conditions are poor.
- If you live or work in an area prone to wildfires, try to stay away from the harmful smoke as much as you’re able.
- When ultraviolet radiation comes through the depleted ozone layer, it can cause skin damage and skin cancer. So, wear sunscreen.
- If you have asthma, make sure to use regularly your preventer asthma inhaler.
- Try to get to work earlier before the rush hour has begun and levels of pollutants boost.
- Try to stay away from the bulk of vehicle congestion.
To sum it up, it’s high time we think of reducing the sources of air pollution before the world turns out to be completely black! Polluted air was already leading to miscarriages and premature births and now this report on toxic air pollutants found in unborn babies is a huge red flag for our pollution activities.
What is black carbon? Black Carbon | Ocean Today (noaa.gov)