Breathing polluted air is, without a doubt, health impacting. That’s a given. The more research done in this area, the more that is learned.
Where I’m going with this is that there is strong evidence to suggest damage at the cellular level associated with the inhalation of the pollutant Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) – a combustion byproduct – is occurring. PAH and Secondary Organic Aerosols (SOA) I first covered in: “Tracking pollution: Research helps explain air-contaminant survival.”
More to the point, Dr. Kari Nadeau, a Stanford University medical school professor with expertise in the areas of allergies and asthma, a few years ago discovered that “many of her child asthma patients had abnormally low levels of regulatory T-cells, which are crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system,” Rebecca Plevin at KVPR (Valley Public Radio) in “Is The Central Valley’s Air Pollution Affecting Our Cells And Genes?” wrote.
Quite interestingly and importantly, of Dr. Nadeau’s patients, those studied from Fresno, California, not surprisingly, had the greatest regulatory T-cell-function impairment, according to Plevin.
“Nadeau then compared the regulatory T-cell function in kids from Fresno – where there’s heavy air pollution – with kids from Palo Alto, where there’s less air pollution,” Plevin reported.
Studied as well were Fresno non-asthmatic children. Most astonishingly, perhaps, was that the non-asthmatic Fresno children studied showed lower regulatory T-cell levels than did the children studied who were from Palo Alto who had asthma, according to the KVPR reporter in question.
If I interpreted what I read correctly, the cause-and-effect here is: the lower the regulatory T-cell level or function, the more suppressed the function of the immune system affected.
Added Plevin: “That means, [Dr. Nadeau] concluded, that exposure to the pollution was possibly causing changes to kids’ DNA.”
Meanwhile, in the news release: “Study links wildfire smoke exposure to reduced immune system function: 10-day episode of wildfire smoke in 2008 offers unexpected primate research opportunity,” the California Environmental Protection Agency Air Resources Board (ARB) declared: “An ARB-funded study at the California National Primate Research Center showed for the first time that exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution at infancy adversely influences development of the branch of the immune system that combats infectious disease, and adversely affects the development of lung function.”
The ARB moreover stated: “Infancy may be associated with increased vulnerability to high levels of air pollution exposure because of the rapid lung and immune system development that occurs during the early months of life.”
I first reported on this on Jan. 22nd in: “Lower immune system function/soot exposure link research shows.”
Image above: U.S. National Institutes of Health: National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute