Exposure to Diesel Fumes During Pregnancy is Associated With Lethargy in Offsprings

diesel exhaust fumes truck photo

Photo: Public domain.
Won't Somebody Think of the Children? Clean Up the Air!
Cutting carbon emissions is extremely important, but it shouldn't make us forget other important goals such as improving air quality. A new study titled In utero exposure to a low concentration of diesel exhaust affects spontaneous locomotor activity and monoaminergic system in male mice published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology studied the health impacts of diesel pollution on mice. They observed some worrying effects (on top of what we already knew, like respiratory and cardiovascular problems).From the study's abstract: "It has been reported that neonatal and adult exposure to diesel exhaust damages the central nervous system (CNS) and induces behavioral alteration. Recently, we have focused on the effects of prenatal exposure to diesel exhaust on the CNS. In this study, we examined the effects of prenatal exposure to low concentration of diesel exhaust on behaviour and the monoaminergic neuron system. "

They examined random male pups whose mothers had been exposed to either diesel exhaust or filtered air during pregnancy, and made observations at 10 minutes intervals during 3 days.

It was found that "the mice whose mothers had breathed the fumes showed significantly less spontaneous motor activity and that this inactivity was associated with alterations in brain metabolism of neurotransmitters."

It's not yet entirely clear if the diesel exhaust affects the development of the offsprings directly or if it affects them indirectly through a modification of the behavior of the mother, but either way, it seems to be bad. It's especially worrying that the researchers used a diesel concentration that is close to what can be found in Japan (they didn't use a dose 1000x higher than what people are exposed to or something like that).

Via Particle and Fibre Toxicology (it's an open access journal, so you can read the study without a subscription)

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