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Researchers gauge health risks as new study finds black carbon particles from air pollution can invade placenta

Air pollution

A new study suggests previously undetected dangers to pregnant women and babies. For the first time, air pollution particles have been found in the placentas.

The study focused on women in Belgium. The study revealed that particles of black carbon can reach the placenta. The placenta is the organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to a growing baby. Black carbon comes from the combustion of fossil fuels or the burning of wood.

The study was conducted on 20 placentas and published on the nature communications website, according to Vox.

Does soot in the placenta impact health?

It is important to note that the study does not establish the health effects of soot in the placenta. The researchers will follow up with the women in the study. They will try to determine how the soot affects them and their babies over time.

The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy. It provides oxygen and nutrients to the growing baby and removes waste products from the baby's blood. The placenta attaches to the wall of the uterus, and the baby's umbilical cord grows from it.

The Belgian researchers said the study shows “compelling evidence” of direct fetal exposure to black carbon particles during the most susceptible period of life.

The presence of air pollution particles in the placenta could help explain the detrimental effects of pollution on fetal development.

The study doesn’t demonstrate that placental black carbon causes problems like premature births and low birth weights. The findings can help scientists explain how these problems occur, though.

Black carbon can cause cell death and lung inflammation in humans and lead to other problems.

Who is most at risk?

Despite the small size of the study, the findings should prompt increased examinations of how air pollution harms people, said Hannelore Bové of Hasselt University’s Centre for Environmental Sciences, lead author of the study.

Belgium has low concentrations of air pollution compared to other countries. That means that the findings of black carbon particles in placentas in a country with such low concentrations suggest even worse results would be found in countries where people are exposed to pollution at greater levels, Bové said.

Countries with high levels of air pollution include Saudi Arabia, India, and China.

Of the 20 most polluted cities in the world, 18 are in India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, according to Greenpeace.

Compared to these places, cities in the United States and Canada enjoy good average air quality. That doesn't include historic wildfires in August and November that have increased pollution.

Over 90 percent of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds World Health Organization guidelines, according to The Guardian.

Millions of premature births may be linked to air pollution. As children grow, asthma, stunted lung growth, the ability to learn in school and the risk of teenage delinquency are linked to air pollution, according to The Guardian.

The big solution lies in governments cutting air pollution. It can be hard for individuals to make a difference. One way to cut exposure to air pollution is to avoid heavily trafficked streets. Choose roads that are less busy instead.

Contact Tyrone Birth Injury Lawyers in Georgia today for help if your family has been impacted by a birth injury.

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