Researchers find toxic particles from air pollution in human brain

Leading construction testing and research organisation BSRIA has announced that it is concerned with recent findings that toxic nanoparticles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains in “abundant quantities”.

This article was originally published in issue 18 of Passive House Plus magazine. Want immediate access to all back issues and exclusive extra content? Click here to subscribe for as little as €10, or click here to receive the next issue free of charge

Tiny magnetic particles from air pollution have for the first time been discovered to be lodged in human brains – and researchers think they could be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. However, the new work remains a long way from proving that air pollution particles cause or exacerbate Alzheimer’s.

Researchers at Lancaster University found abundant magnetite nanoparticles in the brain tissue from 37 individuals aged three to 92-years-old who lived in Mexico City and Manchester.

This strongly magnetic mineral is toxic and has been implicated in the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human brain, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s. Air pollution has been shown to significantly increase the risk of the condition.

Air pollution has also been linked to dementia in older men and women. Julia Evans, chief executive of BSRIA, said: “These are deeply concerning results but clearly more research and information is needed at this stage. But it does confirm early stories that air pollution can affect wellbeing and cognitive performance.

“Degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s, mental illness and reduced intelligence are indeed cause for unease. And it is deeply worrying that outside air quality is the same as that inside. As an industry we have a role to play in providing a safe indoor environment.” 

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 November 2016 11:56

Please log in to comment.