Wednesday September 19, 2018

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
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  • 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)

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Electric Vehicle Can Be The Best For Reducing Air Pollution: Survey

Since we invested in the technology we have often been told that we were making a big mistake betting on battery-powered vehicles.

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People want electric vehicles to reduce air pollution: Survey. Flcikr

Eighty-seven per cent of the respondents believe that the need for reducing air pollution is the best reason to purchase an electric vehicle, a survey commissioned by Climate Trends and carried out by FourthLion Technologies showed on Thursday.

The survey was conducted online from August 21-24 among 2,178 Indian drivers, vehicle owners and those who plan to purchase, own or drive a vehicle in the next 10 years.

Vehicles account for about 24 per cent of India’s carbon emissions and is a major source for air pollution in several cities across the country.

According to a recent WHO report, 14 of the top 20 most polluted cities of the world are in India.

Delhi Pollution, electric vehicle
Air pollution can also damage your kidneys. wikimedia commons

The survey revealed that most drivers and vehicle owners are personally affected by poor air quality.

Seventy-six per cent say they along with their neighbours, friends or family suffer from poor air quality every day or are starting to show symptoms of being affected by air pollution.

Delhi seemed to be worst affected with 91 per cent of its respondents saying that they or people they know are suffering from poor air quality.

Similarly, high percentages were recorded in Hyderabad (78 per cent), Chennai (75 per cent), Mumbai (74 per cent), Bangalore (71 per cent), and Kolkata (70 per cent).

Drivers and vehicle owners say they are ‘much more likely’ to consider purchasing an electric vehicle after learning that ‘electric vehicles reduce air pollution through zero on-road emissions’ (72 per cent) and after learning that ‘recharging and driving an electric vehicle costs less per kilometre than fuelling and driving a petrol or diesel vehicle’ (71 per cent).

Electric Vehicles
The survey indicates very healthy awareness and potential willingness among the respondents to consider purchasing electric vehicles. Flickr

India is the third largest market for automobiles and the world’s largest market when it comes to two-wheelers.

Over four million internal combustion engine vehicles were sold in India in 2017, and 81 per cent of those sales (20 million units) came from the two-wheeler segment alone.

In comparison, according to data from the Society of Manufacturers of Electric Vehicles, less than a million electric vehicles were sold in India, of which 93 per cent were electric three-wheelers.

The survey indicates very healthy awareness and potential willingness among the respondents to consider purchasing electric vehicles.

Also Read: Air Pollution Not Fatal But Could Reduce Life Expectancy By A Year

However, the respondents identified the lack of easily accessible charging infrastructure (59 per cent) and limited driving range on current battery packs (46 per cent) as their biggest objection towards adopting one.

“Since we invested in the technology we have often been told that we were making a big mistake betting on battery-powered vehicles. And today with the world transitioning to the new normal, we are recognized as pioneers in electric vehicles,” Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra said.