An hour of snifing diesel fumes in a busy street may not just give you headache, but it can alter the way your brain functions, says a research of Zuyd University, Netherlands, which has first time demostrated that inha-ation actually alters brain activity.
In the study 10 volounteers were made to spend one hour in a room filled with either clean air or exhaust from a diesel engine, connected with electroencephalograph (EEG), a machine that records the electrical signals of the brain, and their brain waves mon itored during the exposure period and for one hour after they left the room.
The analysis after 30 minutes found that the diesel exhaust began to affect brain activity. The EEG data suggested that the brain displayed a stress response, indicative of changed information processing in the brain cortex, which continued to increase even after the subjects had left the exposure chamber.
The concentration of diesel exhaust that the subjects breathed was set to the highest level that people might encounter in the environment or at work.
The research adds, that their findings are due to nanoparticles or ‘soot’ particles that are major components of diesel exhaust. These may penerate the brain and affect brain function. What these effects may mean for the chronic exposuire to air pollution encountered in busy cities where the levels of such soot particles can be very high.
The long term effects of exposure to traffic nanoparticles may interfere with normal brain function and information processing. The study was published in the Journal Particle and Fibre Toxicology, and The Hindu on 17.03.2008. Thanks the Hindu.