Brain Stress Caused by Diesel Exhaust Inhalation

Editor: People with tic disorders have complained that riding in a vehicle sometimes increases symptoms. A new study supports the link between exposure to toxins in diesel exhaust and brain changes.

Research now shows that even a short exposure to diesel fumes can affect your brain. In a study published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology, an hour of sniffing exhaust induces a stress response in the brain's activity. We already know that small particles from polluted air can be detected in the brain after exposures. But this is the first time that scientists have demonstrated that inhalation actually alters brain activity.

The study was conducted with EEG recordings while exposed to diesel exhaust versus clean air. Changes in brain activity were noticed after 30 minutes or so of exposure. The EEG data revealed that the brain displayed a stress response, indicative of changed information processing in the brain cortex. The effect continued even after the subjects had left the exposure chamber.

According to the research author, "It is conceivable that the long-term effects of exposure to traffic nanoparticles may interfere with normal brain function and information processing." Also, "Further studies are necessary to explore this effect, and to assess the relationship between the amount of exposure to particles and the brain's response and, and investigate the clinical implications of these novel findings."

Editor: In-car exhaust systems can help avoid exposure to contaminants. See this company for one example: Foust

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