Sunday, 6 April 2014

Emissions from diesel can damage children's brains

DIESEL emissions can damage the brains of children living near busy roads, altering the way they develop and raising their risk of developing schizophrenia, autism and other diseases.
Scientists have found powerful evidence that long-term expos­ure to the tiny particulates emitted by diesel engines alters the way children’s brains grow, potentially also making them less intelligent.
Some scientists have likened the impact of diesel particulates to those emitted by lead in petrol. This was banned in 1999 after scientists found that the lead additives caused brain damage in exposed children — reducing their IQ and increasing their propensity for violent and criminal behaviour.
The research suggests the danger comes not just from peaks in pollution but from long-term exposure, especially to the young.
The emerging threat from particulates is summed up in a report on European air pollution recently published by the World Health Organisation.
It spoke of “possible links between long-term PM2.5 expo­sure (of particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) and neuro­development and cognitive function ... including impairment of cognitive functions in adults and children”.
California research reported last year in The Journal of the American Medical Association involved a study of 525 children, 279 with autism. It found pollu­tion levels experienced by mothers in pregnancy and the children in their first year of life were strongly correlated with the risk of developing autism.

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