Traffic pollution can impair brain function: study

Traffic pollution can impair brain function: study

Typical levels of traffic pollution can impair human brain function in a matter of hours, a new study has found.

Just two hours of exposure to diesel exhaust causes a plunge in the brain’s functional connectivity — a measure of how different areas of the brain communicate with each other, according to the study published in Environmental Health on Tuesday.

“For many decades, scientists thought the brain may be protected from the harmful effects of air pollution,” senior author Chris Carlsten, head of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia, said in a statement .

“This study, which is the first of its kind in the world, provides fresh evidence supporting a connection between air pollution and cognition,” Carlsten added.

To draw these conclusions, the Canadian research team briefly exposed 25 healthy adults to diesel exhaust and filtered air at different times in a laboratory setting.

The scientists said they measured brain activity before and after each exposure using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

They then analyzed changes in the brain’s “default mode network” — a set of interconnected brain regions that contribute to memory and internal thought.

The fMRI results demonstrated that participants experienced decreased functional connectivity in the default mode network after exposure to diesel exhaust, in comparison to filtered air, according to the study.

“People may want to think twice the next time they’re stuck in traffic with the windows rolled down,” Carlsten said.

“It’s important to ensure that your car’s air filter is in good working order, and if you’re walking or biking down a busy street, consider diverting to a less busy route,” he added.

Welcome to Equilibrium , a newsletter that tracks the growing global battle over the future of sustainability. We’re Saul Elbein and Sharon Udasin . Subscribe here .

Today we’ll start in the western United States, which is still battling drought despite recent rains. Then we’ll see how Texas could benefit from a nascent geothermal industry, as well as how Europe is turning to Africa for fossil fuel resources.

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A series of storms that pummeled the U.S. West recently to local reservoirs, but federal meteorologists warned on Tuesday that long-term drought still plagues the region.

Nine storm systems known as “atmospheric rivers” began inundating the West over a three-week period starting in late December, according to from the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).

Heather Boushey, a member of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers, sits down with The Hill’s Sylvan Lane for a live newsmaker event. The state’s flagship universities collaborated with the (IEA) to produce the landmark report.

For more on how Texas can begin its geothermal buildout, please click

The U.S. Forest Service will spend nearly half a billion dollars to help bolster against destructive fire, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced last week. “It is no longer a matter of ‘if’ a wildfire will threaten many western communities in these landscapes, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement.

The work builds on the sweeping the department announced earlier this month.

With last year’s announced fuel treatments , the USDA has committed to invest $930 million across 45 million acres.

The number of energy deals signed by the EU and by European nations with third-party countries has recently surged, according to , published by the Liechtenstein-based Geopolitical Intelligence Services. This trade tension stems from a potential flight of to the U.S. — lured by green subsidies available through the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act, as we reported.

Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni praised Algeria on Monday as Rome’s “” partner in North Africa at the end of a two-day visit to the country, France24 reported. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned on Tuesday that humanity was our colleague Laura Kelly reported. The Bulletin celebrated this grim milestone by advancing its Doomsday Clock — which measures the scale of existential threats facing humanity — to 90 seconds to midnight.

Environmental advocates are expressing frustration with the Biden administration at what they describe as , our colleague Rachel Frazin reported. Their discontent comes after the administration’s release of its semiannual , which pushed back timelines for a variety of pollution and fossil fuel-related rules.

The recent death of an endangered vulture at the Dallas Zoo at the zoo this month, The Wall Street Journal reported. On Jan. 13, a clouded leopard went temporarily missing after its enclosure was deliberately cut open — creating a tear similar to one found the same day in a monkey enclosure.

Please visit The Hill’s online for more and . We’ll see you tomorrow.


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