New study on the effects of air pollution

Updated: 06/06/2014 9:17 PM
Created: 06/06/2014 5:38 PM WHEC.com
By: Josh Nichols

There is a new study on the real effects of air pollution. Researchers in Rochester looked into the effects it can have on the brains of mice. They found it had an immediate impact. Now they are wondering could air pollution lead to real illnesses or conditions in people. 

There have been several studies over the years that have shown a link between air pollution and autism in children. There is new research being done in Rochester that is paving the way to learn more about that connection. 

Air pollution is something people are exposed to everyday. While Rochester has better air quality than most cities, it is not so much the pollution that is seen, but rather the pollution that goes unseen in fine particles that may be harmful to people’s brains. Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechtca is the lead author of a brand new study out of the University of Rochester Medical Center. It is a groundbreaking study connecting the air quality we breathe when we’re very young with conditions like autism and schizophrenia.

Dr. Deborah Cory-Slechtca said, "This is the first that I’m aware of an environmental exposure risk factor that provides the biological plausibility for those. What's even more interesting about it is we are seeing characteristics of both autism and schizophrenia. The epidemiological studies see that."

In the study, experiments were done on newborn mice to see just how their developing brains responded when exposed to high pollution levels. The effects on their brains to that pollution were immediate. 

Dr. Cory-Slechtca said, "The connection between the two sides of the brain is going to be impaired and we know that kind of connection is very important for social behavior, communicative kinds of behavior, things like that. So this is what happens after those eight days. We looked at this brain 24 hours after that exposure ended. So this is kind of an immediate effect."

It is an effect that scientists will continue to explore in Rochester.

The research published Friday would be the first scientific work to reveal air pollution's effect on the brain and will also raise new questions on what we can do to improve our current air quality standards to protect our children. 

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