Source: Fortis escort

According to recent neuroscience research, breathing in diesel exhaust fumes while stuck in traffic might be extremely harmful to your brain. According to research from the University of British Columbia, following exposure to traffic pollution, brain scans reveal increasing impairments in brain function. In fact, it only takes two hours for evidence of diminished brain function to become apparent.

The study concentrated on a measure of a person’s functional connectivity, which assesses how efficiently various brain areas communicate with one another. The study’s authors claim that this is the first controlled experiment to demonstrate that exposure to air pollution in people may change brain network connectivity.

How sitting in traffic jams can harm your health
Source: Medicaltoday

According to Chris Carlsten, a professor at UBC, head of respiratory medicine, and holder of the Canada Research Chair in occupational and environmental lung disease, for many years it was believed that the brain may be immune to the negative effects of air pollution. This study, the first of its sort anywhere in the world, offers new proof in favor of a link between air pollution and cognition.

How does the study start

In a lab setting, the scientists temporarily exposed 25 healthy persons to either filtered air or diesel exhaust. Prior to and following each session, their brain activity was measured using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The default mode network in the brain was one of the regions they examined for potential alterations (DMN). The DMN is a network of interconnected brain areas that contribute to people’s internal thoughts and memories. According to the results of the fMRI scans, those who are exposed to diesel exhaust had lower DMN activity than the air-filtered group.

It is alarming to observe traffic pollution disrupting these similar networks since we are aware that altered functional connectivity in the DMN has been linked to decreased cognitive function and depressive symptoms. There has to be more study to properly understand how these changes may affect people’s capacity to operate, but it’s possible that they will make it harder for individuals to think or perform at work.

It is the long-term effect that is threatening

The good news is that the effects of diesel exhaust on the nervous system were only transient. Every subject who had been exposed to air pollution had a restoration to regular brain function. The authors of the study hypothesize that repeated exposure, such as daily sitting in standstill traffic, may result in more severe long-term harm. Dr. Carlsten argues that it’s preferable to avoid exposure altogether, even if it’s unclear how much automobile exhaust might result in permanent brain damage.

Car exhaust smoke from traffic 1902175 Stock Photo at Vecteezy
Source: Times

Dr. Carlsten advises people to pause the next time they’re trapped in traffic with the windows down. Make sure your car’s air filter is functioning properly, and if you’re walking or bicycling down a busy street, think about choosing a different route.

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