Black carbon particles typically emitted by vehicle exhaust and coal-fired power plants have been detected on the foetus-facing side of placentas, researchers said Tuesday.
The concentration of particles was highest in the placentas of women most exposed to airborn pollutants in their daily life, according to a study in Nature Communications.
“Our study provides compelling evidence for the presence of black carbon particles originating from air pollution in human placenta,” the authors said.
The findings, they added, offer a “plausible explanation for the detrimental health effects of pollution from early life onwards.”
Air pollution is known to have potentially devastating impacts on children’s health.
The biggest risk is for low birth weight, which in turn increases the odds for diabetes, asthma, stroke, heart disease and a host of other conditions.
But the biological explanation for how and why air pollution poses such a threat to newborns has long puzzled doctors.
“The new study sheds some light on this by showing that inhalation of black carbon particles can accumulate in the placenta,” commented Christine Jasoni, director of the Brain Health Research Centre at the University of Otago in New Zealand, commenting on the study.
Scientists led by Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Diepenbeek, Belgium postulated that “black carbon particles are able to translocate from the mothers’ lungs to the placenta.”
Nawrot and his team used high-resolution imaging to examine the placentas of 23 full-term and five pre-term births.
Women who had been exposed to higher levels of black carbon particles — averaging 2.42 micrograms per cubic metre — showed significantly higher levels of particles in the placenta than ten mothers exposed to a quarter as much.
Critically, traces of black carbon were found on the inward-facing side of the placenta, putting them in direct in contact with the developing foetus.
There was no evidence, however, of pollution particles in the foetus itself, suggesting the placenta may act as a barrier to the toxins.
“But the black carbon could be damaging the placenta,” said Jennifer Salmond, and an associate professor at the University of Auckland’s School of Environment, commenting on the new findings.
“Poor placental function could explain the low birth weight that has been associated with air pollution in other studies.”
Children are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality during foetal development, when exposure can result in life-long changes to development as well as permanent damage to lung tissue.
“Perhaps the most alarming aspect of this study is that black carbon particles from air that is not even considered to be particularly polluted by WHO standards is nonetheless accumulating in the placenta,” Salmond said.
More than 90 percent of children live in environments where the outdoor concentration of airborn pollutants exceed World Health Organization guidelines.
Trump’s attacks on Biden’s mental fitness just draw attention to his own problems: Joy Reid pane
MSNBC host Joy Reid gave some helpful advice to President Donald Trump and his children, who frequently attack former Vice President Joe Biden for his mental health: It makes you look worse.
Speaking to her closing Wednesday panel with Jason Johnson and Howard Fineman, Reid showed a super-cut of Trump's knack for getting words wrong, not knowing how to pronounce simple things, slurring his words, stumbling down the stairs, not knowing where to go, dragging his feet and more.
"Well, you know, my pretext for all my students this fall will be: person, woman, man, camera, tv, and if they can do that, I know they're at least as smart as the president," joked Johnson. "Here's the thing. Joe Biden demonstrated that he literally can ride a bike and do something else at the same time. Like, I have always thought the argument that Joe Biden has lost a step or has some sort of mental deficiency was a complete lie. It's Republicans just projecting. What's important to remember is that no matter how much they spout this nonsense, every single time Donald Trump opens his mouth, he looks worse. There is nothing Joe Biden can say that is more foolish or incoherent than Donald Trump in the middle of a substantive interview."
Here’s how Trump’s ‘nasty’ jab at Kamala reveals his misunderstanding of women
President Donald Trump has reprised one of his most common attacks on women — "nasty" — to describe Joe Biden's running mate, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).
On Wednesday, writing for The New York Times, Katie Rogers broke down how the president's continual attacks on women in politics — combined with his characterization of women voters — reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of modern gender norms.
Congresswoman criticizes Republican press guy for claim Black folks don’t care about Kamala Harris: Does he know any?
Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) hilariously mocked former press secretary Ari Fleischer, who worked for former President George W. Bush's White House. Fleischer claimed Black people won't be that excited about Sen. Kamala Harris on the ticket.
"She's just not that historically exciting to African-Americans," said Fleischer speaking to Laura Ingraham during a Fox News appearance after the announcement.
During a conversation with MSNBC's Joy Reid, the host called Fleischer "a sort of a bygone era Republican voice" and asked Bass to listen to his comments.
"I wonder how many African-Americans," asked Bass, chuckling.