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Research: air pollutants find their way into brain

Sep 06, 2016, 3:56 AM EDT
(Source: Michael Horton/flickr)
(Source: Michael Horton/flickr)

A finding described as “dreadfully shocking” suggests that tiny particles of air pollutants enter our brains and could conceivably contribute to diseases like Alzheimer's. While there are a number of studies that focus on the adverse effects of air pollution on the lungs and heart, the latest report provides the first evidence that minute particles can harm the brain as well.

The revelation by scientists at Lancaster University follows a report by the World Health Organization, which warned that air pollution is causing three million premature deaths every year, reports the BBC.

A team of researchers examined brain tissue from 37 people living in the U.K. and Mexico only to find abundant particles of magnetite, an iron oxide, writes The Guardian. One of the researchers said that small and crystal-shaped magnetite particles are naturally formed in human brains but the ones found during the examination were large and spherical, which links them to an air pollution source.

A majority of experts agrees with the findings of the research, adding that more work needs to be done to find what effect magnetite particles have on brain health or conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

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