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Scientists warn that inhaled air pollutant particles (particulate matter) are moving from the lungs to placentas of pregnant women, highlighting an urgent need for stricter policies for cleaner air that will lower impacts of air pollution on health.
The new study presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress adds to existing evidence on the dangers of pollution for unborn babies and suggests that when pregnant women breathe polluted air, sooty particles are able to reach the placenta via the bloodstream.
The work was presented by Norrice Liu, a paediatrician and clinical research fellow and Lisa Miyashita, a post-doctoral researcher, both members of Professor Jonathan Grigg’s research group at Queen Mary University of London.
“We have known for a while that a correlation exists between maternal exposure to air pollution derived particulate matter and harmful effects on the foetus but the mechanisms behind this correlation remain to be unidentified. We, therefore, wanted to investigate whether particles travel to the placenta,” Miyashita told Mongabay-India, adding that this study provides the first evidence that inhaled particulate matter (PM) translocate from the lung to the placenta.
The researchers examined the placentas of five pregnant women in the United Kingdom who were due to have planned caesarean section deliveries at the Royal London Hospital.
They were all non-smokers with an uncomplicated pregnancy and each one gave birth to a healthy baby. The women all gave permission for researchers to study their placentas after delivery, a press release said.
The researchers examined cells called placental macrophages. Macrophages exist in many different parts in the body. They are part of the body’s immune system and work by engulfing harmful particles, such as bacteria and pollutant particles. In the placenta they also help protect the foetus.
“We do not know whether the particles we found could also move across into the foetus, but our evidence suggests that this is indeed possible. We also know that the particles do not need to get into the baby’s body to have an adverse effect, because if they have an effect on the placenta, this will have a direct impact on the foetus.”
They advise pregnant women to avoid heavily polluted areas where possible. “Stricter policies for cleaner air will reduce the associated risk,” Miyashita said.
That India tops the world in bad air quality is not in doubt. Data from World Health Organisation reveals India has 14 out of the 20 most polluted cities in the world in terms of PM2.5. Populations are exposed to levels of fine particulate matter air pollution (PM2.5) that exceed the annual mean value of 10 microgram per cubic metre recommended in the WHO air quality guidelines.
PM2.5 includes pollutants, such as sulfate, nitrates and black carbon, which pose the greatest risks to human health.
A multi-country study in 2013 found mothers who are exposed to particulate air pollution, the type produced by vehicles and power plants, are more likely to bear children of low birth weight.
A recent study on exposures to fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and birthweight in rural-urban, mother-child cohort in Tamil Nadu, India, showed that a 10 microgram per cubic metre increase in PM2.5 exposures during pregnancy was associated with a 4 gram decrease in birth-weight. The study called for the “need to consider maternal PM2.5 exposures alongside other risk factors for low birthweight in India.”
Low birth weight is counted as a leading cause of child mortality in India besides prematurity, pneumonia, diarrheal diseases and other factors.
Government data underscores that “with under-five mortality rate in India at 43 per 1,000 live births, infant mortality rate at 34 per 1,000 live births and neonatal mortality rates at 25 per 1,000 live births, it is estimated that 10.8 lakh under-five children die annually.”
India continues to show impressive gains in reduction of child deaths with under-five deaths in India falling below the one million mark for the first time as per the latest UN estimates.
However, the estimates say “the share of neonatal to under-five mortality continues to increase due to faster decline in post neonatal deaths, with newborn deaths now contributing to 62 percent of under-five deaths, calling for greater investments in care before and during pregnancy and in the period around childbirth”.
According to Srikanth Nadadur, program officer in the Exposure, Response, and Technology Branch at the United States’ National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, developing foetuses are highly vulnerable to the negative health consequences associated with many environmental exposures, such as air pollution. Terming the placenta-based study interesting, Nadadur said more data is needed to establish a clear link between air pollution and adverse health effects during pregnancy.
“This particular study was looking at tiny particles of carbon that typically come from ambient air pollution resulting from burning fossil fuels,” Nadadur told Mongabay-India.
“In India, we do see that type of air pollution, however there is also a high prevalence of indoor air pollution sources, such as those that come from cookstoves, biomass burning and indoor cooking, which the study did not look at. That would be an interesting follow-up study to do as well,” he said.
In terms of research, Nadadur said, more work needs to be done linking different types of air pollution (indoor versus outdoor) to adverse health effects, as well as factoring the levels of the mothers’ exposure (higher levels seen in India, Mongolia or China).
On the same line, Pratap Kumar Padhy, who works on pollution biology, stressed that in India, along with outdoor air pollution, maternal and child health is also at greater risk from exposure to indoor air pollution (from using biomass fuel) where concentration of particulate matter is often many times higher than in outdoors.
“In our studies on tribal women of northeast India we found that women exposed to higher concentration of pollutants during cooking with fuel wood had lower pulmonary functions and more respiratory symptoms compared to women cooking with LPG,” Padhy, Associate Professor and former head at the department of environmental studies Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, said.
“Our study also reported that both PM2.5 and PM10 were associated with alteration in levels of haematological parameters (haemoglobin, platelet count, WBC and RBC) and antioxidants indicating oxidative stress in tribal women,” he said.
Exposure to high concentration of PM2.5 can lead to changes in blood parameters such as levels of haemoglobin, red blood cells, white blood cells and platelet counts which in turn may adversely affect foetal growth, he said.
“The World Health Organisation has recommended three interim targets of PM2.5 levels for countries to achieve to reduce health risk. However, most Indian cities are far from achieving these targets. For India to achieve these targets, stringent policy measures are required along with advanced technologies and a will to follow the path of sustainable development,” Padhy added.
Khadi is no longer a dull, drab fabric meant only for politicians' wardrobes. A fashion show organised by the Khadi Gramodyog Board as part of the Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav to mark the 75th year of India's Independence showcased the use of Khadi in traditional, as well as, contemporary and festive wear. From lehengas in resplendent Khadi silk to western clothes and casual wear, the models on Thursday night displayed new facts of the fabric.
Several well-known Indian designers including Ritu Beri, Farah Ansari, Rina Dhaka, Asma Husain, Aditi Rastogi and Himmat Singh showcased their designs. Gaurav Gaur directed the fashion show with clothes like lehengas, kurtis, kurta pajamas and partywear.
Lucknow's chikankari and silk artisans also participated in the event. A wedding collection in Khadi was the highlight of the show. "The show was based on the concept 'Khadi for nation, Khadi for fashion' and the fabric for all costumes was provided by Khadi Gramodyog Board," said a spokesman. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: lucknow, clothes, lehengas, fashion, fabric
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Intel saw its stock tumbling by more than 8 percent after the chipmaker said the industry-wide component shortage affected its PC chip business during the third quarter (Q3). Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger told CNBC late on Thursday that he didn't expect the semiconductor shortage to end until 2023. "We're in the worst of it now, every quarter, next year we'll get incrementally better, but they're not going to have supply-demand balance until 2023," Gelsinger was quoted as saying.
The company delivered its Q3 results with revenue up 5 percent (year-over-year) driven by strong demand in its DCG and IoTG businesses, despite the highly constrained industry-wide supply environment. "Q3 revenue was $18.1 billion slightly below our guide due to shipping and supply constraints that impacted our businesses," George S. Davis, Chief Financial Officer, said in a statement. He also announced plans to retire from Intel in May 2022. In the third quarter, the company generated $9.9 billion in cash from operations and paid dividends of $1.4 billion.
| Photo by Slejven Djurakovic on Unsplash
According to the company, the demand remains strong in its PC business with particular strength in commercial, desktop, and higher-end consumer notebooks. In an earnings call, Gelsinger said that the digitization of everything accelerated by the four superpowers of AI, pervasive connectivity, cloud to edge infrastructure, and ubiquitous compute are driving the sustained need for more semiconductors. "The market is expected to double to $1 trillion by 2030. In that timeframe, the market for leading-edge nodes will rise to be over 50 percent of the total, while the market for leading-edge foundry services will grow at twice the rate of the semi-industry overall," he envisioned.
PC demand remains very strong, and "We believe the 2021 TAM (total addressable market) will grow double digits even as ecosystem shortages constrain our customer's ability to ship finished systems," Gelsinger added. "Customers continue to choose Intel for their datacenter needs and our third-gen scalable Xeon processor Ice Lake has shipped over 1 million units since launching in April, and we expect to ship over 1 million units again in Q4 alone," he informed. (IANS/MBI)
Keywords: Intel, Chip, processor, Desktop, AI, Semiconductor, PC, Processor
Micro-blogging site Twitter has announced that its audio chatroom Spaces is now open to anyone who wants to host. The Spaces team in a tweet said that the users on both Android and iOS will now be able to host Spaces. "The time has arrived -- we're now rolling out the ability for everyone on iOS and Android to host a Space," the firm said in a tweet.
Earlier this year, the company had limited access to hosting Spaces to accounts with at least 600 followers, saying that it found these accounts would be more likely to have a good experience due to the existing audience. Twitter recently announced a new accelerator programme for creators on its audio conversation platform Spaces, to "discover and reward" around 150 creators with technical, financial and marketing support.
The 'Twitter Spaces Spark' programme is a three-month accelerator initiative. Those selected will get a stipend of $2,500 per month, $500 in monthly ad credits to spend promoting their Spaces on Twitter and early access to new Twitter features. They will also get support from Twitter's official social media handles, and "opportunities for prioritised in-app discoverability for well-performing Spaces".
Twitter has also announced plans to roll out paid Ticketed Spaces for iOS users where some hosts on its live audio feature can now sell access to Ticketed Spaces. Twitter had previously said that it will take a 3 per cent cut of creators' earnings from Ticketed Spaces. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: android, creators, ticketed, access, twitter, spaces