A study by Stanford University investigating the effects of air pollution on the immune status and cardiovascular health of children has found that even short-term exposure to pollutants increases the rate of heart disease and other ailments in later life.
The report, published in Nature Scientific Reports, is the first to investigate the effects of air pollution at the single cell level and confirms the findings of previous studies that pollutants can alter gene regulation.
The study provides compelling evidence that pollution “causes changes in the immune and cardiovascular system associated not only with asthma and respiratory diseases, as has been shown before”, says lead author Mary Prunicki.
More than 25% of all children in developed countries develop disorders from air pollution exposure
The World Health Organization estimates that “more than 25% of all children in developed countries develop disorders linked with immune system dysfunction from air pollution exposure”.
The study further suggests a correlation between pollution exposure and an increase in monocytes, white blood cells, which contribute to the building of plaques in the arteries, a factor predisposing children to adult heart disease.