Friday April 19, 2019

How exposure to air pollution in womb may shorten lifespan

Babies' exposure to high levels of air pollution in the womb may lead to a type of DNA damage, typically associated with ageing, called telomere shortening, warned a study

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"An individual's telomere length at birth is known to influence their risk for disease decades later during adulthood," said Deliang Tang, Professor at the Columbia University in the US. Pixabay
  • Babies’ exposure to high levels of air pollution may result in shorten lifespan
  • The team analysed telomere length in the umbilical cord blood of 255 newborns, born both before and after the closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China
  • The study was published in journal Environment International

Babies’ exposure to high levels of air pollution in the womb may lead to a type of DNA damage, typically associated with ageing, called telomere shortening, warned a study.

Telomeres are the caps at the end of each strand of DNA that protect our chromosomes. Telomere shortening is the main cause of age-related breakdown of our cells and has been linked with cancer and heart disease, cognitive decline, ageing, as well as premature death.

Babies exposed to air pollution in utero, showed higher levels of PAH-DNA cord adducts -- a biomarker for exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxic component of air pollution from coal plants. Pixabay
Babies exposed to air pollution in utero, showed higher levels of PAH-DNA cord adducts — a biomarker for exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a toxic component of air pollution from coal plants. Pixabay

ALSO READ: Air Pollution expected to Cause 60,000 Deaths in 2030 and 2,60,000 in 2100 Globally: Study

Elevated levels of these adducts in cord blood were associated with shorter telomeres as well as with lower levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) — a protein involved in neuronal grown.

“An individual’s telomere length at birth is known to influence their risk for disease decades later during adulthood,” said Deliang Tang, Professor at the Columbia University in the US.

ALSO READ: Air pollution affecting India’s glistening Golden Temple

In May 2004, high levels of air pollution in Tongliang prompted the government to shut down the local coal-burning power plant to improve community health. Pixabay
In May 2004, high levels of air pollution in Tongliang prompted the government to shut down the local coal-burning power plant to improve community health. Pixabay

For the study, which appeared in the journal Environment International, the team analysed telomere length in the umbilical cord blood of 255 newborns, born both before and after the closure of a coal-burning power plant in Tongliang, China in 2004.

“Further follow-up is needed to assess the role telomere length plays in health outcomes in the context of early life exposure to air pollution,” Tang said. (IANS)

Next Story

London Becomes First City to Use Pollution Charge Zone: Report

London's famous red bus fleet is also being updated as part of these efforts, and all 9,200 vehicles will meet or exceed ULEZ standards by October 2020, according to the mayor's office

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Environmental campaigners from the direct action group Rebellion demonstrate on Westminster Bridge in central London, Britain. VOA

London is the first city in the world to implement a 24-hour, seven day a week Ultra Low Emission Zone, inside which vehicles will have to meet tough emissions standards or face a charge, media reported.

Monday’s introduction of the zone, known as the ULEZ, aims to reduce toxic air pollution and protect public health, according to a press release from the office of Sadiq Khan, mayor of London.

Vehicles are responsible for around half of harmful nitrogen oxide air emissions in the British capital, contributing to a toxic air health crisis that increases the risk of asthma, cancer and dementia as well as causing thousands of premature deaths every year, the release says.

“This is a landmark day for our city. Our toxic air is an invisible killer responsible for one of the biggest national health emergencies of our generation,” Khan said in the statement.

“The ULEZ is the centerpiece of our plans to clean up London’s air — the boldest plans of any city on the planet, and the eyes of the world are on us.”

According to a CNN Business report, under new rules introduced April 8, polluting vehicles will be discouraged from entering the ULEZ thanks to a daily charge of £12.50 (around $16) for some cars, vans and motorbikes and £100 ($130) for trucks, buses and coaches.

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A Facebook billboard advertisement can be seen at Earls Court underground station in London, July 28, 2018. (VOA)

The zone will cover the same area as the existing Congestion Charge — collected from drivers in the city center — until 2021, when it will be expanded to cover the area between the major orbital roads known as the North and South Circular, it added.

Drivers can check whether their vehicle meets ULEZ emission standards using an online tool provided by travel authority Transport for London.

Also Read- Food Additive in Frozen Meat, Crackers Worsens Flu, Say Researchers

The ULEZ is the next stage in a plan to clean up London’s air, which started with the so-called T-charge — an extra charge for highly polluting vehicles in the city center — introduced in February 2017.

Since then, the number of vehicles entering the zone has fallen by around 11,000 per day, according to official figures, and there has been a 55 per cent increase in emissions-compliant vehicles in the zone.

London’s famous red bus fleet is also being updated as part of these efforts, and all 9,200 vehicles will meet or exceed ULEZ standards by October 2020, according to the mayor’s office. (IANS)