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New Study Concludes That Air Pollution Can Cause Fetal Deaths and Birth Defects

By making use of an animal model, a team of scientists from Texas A&M University have ascertained that air pollution can result in congenital disabilities and fatalities during pregnancy. The researchers exposed female rats to fine particulate matter that had ammonium sulfate – one of the most common air pollutants all over the world.

Quite large amounts of this substance have been recorded in the air in not only Asia but in the US as well. For instance, according to the air test results showed 51% in Houston and 31% in Los Angeles. As per the World Health Organization, nine out of ten persons are breathing air that contains high levels of pollutants.

According to a report recently published, breathing toxic air affects not only the respiratory system but also imparts negative effects on other organs of the body. In fact, one out of every nine death can be attributed to the exposure to air pollution, thus bringing the total to seven million premature deaths each year. Many consider ammonium sulfate to be not highly toxic. However, the study carried out on rats has proven that breathing air polluted with it can have adverse effects during pregnancy.

Renyi Zhang, Texas A&M Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric Sciences and the Harold J. Haynes Chair in Geosciences and one of the leading authors of the study, said, ‘People typically believe that ammonium sulfate may not be terribly toxic, but our results show large impacts on pregnant female rats. It is unclear yet what is causing these profound effects, but we speculate that the size of nanoparticles or even the acidity may be the culprit.’

Zhang further added, ‘Furthermore, there is an absence of clinical recommendations for the prevention and treatment of air pollution-related health issues. Our study has demonstrated that well-controlled exposure experiments using animal models offer major advantages for future air pollution control and are promising in the development of therapeutic intervention and treatment procedures.’

This is all but an indication that we all should be focused on curbing air pollution to provide a safer and healthier environment to the masses. What do you think?

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