Saturday November 17, 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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Minimise Indoor Pollution With Air Purifiers

According to a System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) report, the recent Air Quality Index in Delhi has been 'very poor', mainly due to stubble burning

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If you prefer staying indoors due to the rise in air pollution in Delhi-NCR, think again. According to experts, the air one breathes inside the house also contains particles that are harmful to health.

Products such as paints, as well as pet allergens and cooking gas can be additional sources of air pollution.

Air pollutants like particulate matter, ozone, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide and lead can affect the lungs in numerous ways like inflammation and oxidative stress.

India, air pollution, asia
A man walks in front of the India Gate shrouded in smog in New Delhi, India. VOA

According to a System of Air Quality Forecasting and Research (SAFAR) report, the recent Air Quality Index in Delhi has been ‘very poor’, mainly due to stubble burning.

According to Priyanka Kulshreshtha, Head-Research and Communication, Indian Pollution Control Association, and Founding Member, Society of Indoor Environment, it is very important to have exposure to purified air for at least 10-12 hours a day to breathe better and repair your lungs since the air one breathes outdoors is very poor.

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“Air purifiers work particularly well for the vulnerable sections such as kids and elderly as they also happen to spend more time indoors, whether it’s home or school, as well as 8-10 hours of sleep time,” she added. (IANS)