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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Air Pollution Seen as Playing Role in Mental Health Disorders

ALLGOV | Jun 20, 2014 | Noel Brinkerhoff


(photo: Getty Images)
Some neurological conditions such as autism and schizophrenia may be linked to exposure to air pollution, a new study shows.

Experts at the University of Rochester Medical Center found that subjecting young mice to air pollution causes unhealthy changes in their brains, including the enlarging of the same areas found in humans diagnosed with autism and schizophrenia.

The research showed the changes tended to occur more often in males, and that other troubles like memory loss, learning disability and impulsivity became prevalent. The findings support those of earlier studies indicating a link between air pollution and autism in children.

Last year, JAMA Psychiatry reported a correlation between children living in areas with high levels of traffic-related air pollution and autism. In fact, these kids were three times more likely to develop the condition.

“Our findings add to the growing body of evidence that air pollution may play a role in autism, as well as in other neurodevelopmental disorders,” Deborah Cory-Slechta, professor of environmental medicine at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study, said.

Earlier this year, a Harvard University study showed that exposure in the womb to diesel, lead, manganese, mercury, methylene chloride and an overall measure of metals was “significantly associated with autism spectrum disorder,” with the highest association from exposure to diesel exhaust, according to a story in the Provo Daily Herald.

“Air pollution contains many toxicants known to affect neurological function and to have effects on the fetus,” the Harvard study stated.

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