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New study reveals toxic particles from air pollution have been discovered in human brains.
The particles of magnetite raises concerns as the research has suggested these contribute to diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Earlier this year the World Health Organisation warned that air pollution was leading to as many as three million premature deaths every year.
The researchers have called for more work to be done to establish whether or not magnetite particles from air pollution play a role in causing Alzheimer’s disease.
Professor Barbara Maher, at Lancaster University, who led the new research said, “This is a discovery finding, and now what should start is a whole new examination of this as a potentially very important environmental risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease.
“Now there is a reason to go on and do the epidemiology and the toxicity testing, because these particles are so prolific and people are exposed to them.”
Dr David Reynolds, chief scientific officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “Little is known about the role of magnetite nanoparticles in the brain and whether their magnetic properties influence brain function.
“It’s interesting to see further research investigating the presence of this mineral in the brain, but it’s too early to conclude that it may have a causal role in Alzheimer’s disease or any other brain disease.
“We know that air pollution can have a negative impact on certain aspects of human health, but we can’t conclude from this study that magnetite nanoparticles carried in air pollution are harmful to brain health.”
Alzheimer’s disease is caused by a build-up of proteins in the brain. The build-up leads to the loss of brain tissue, the death of nerve cells and a shortage of important brain chemicals.
It’s a common cause of dementia and according to the Alzheimer’s Society, affects around 850,000 people in the UK.
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