A new study proves that children and teenagers who are exposed to a significant amount of traffic-related air pollution are likely to experience telomere shortening, a type of DNA damage. This study was reported in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. Telomere shortening is often times found in children or teens with asthma, and the shortening is biomarker of DNA damage that is caused by environmental exposures.
The study took place in Fresno, California and included fourteen adolescents and children. Fresno is the second most polluted city in the country. The researchers in this study examined the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, an air pollutant from motor vehicle exhaust, and telomere shortening. They found that more exposure to PAHs led to decreased length of telomeres. They also found that children with asthma were exposed to a higher PAH level. Air pollution causes oxidative stress, and this damages DNA as well. Doctors suggest that we educate ourselves on the impact of air pollution in order to provide effective policies and interventions.
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