Discovery: Air Pollution Penetrates the Brain

Graphic of Magnetite and a BrainA study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences discovered that a toxic particle called Magnetite (a magnetic iron oxide mineral) has shown up inside the brain and may be contributing to degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and premature deaths.

The initial discovery of Magnetite particles inside the brain is not new (it was found more than two decades ago and had structures suggesting a biological origin), however now researchers see evidence that suggests that these particles are being deposited from airborne pollutants.

Magnetite enters the brain through inhalation, specifically through the olfactory nerve. This is the same pathway that connects the brain with the nose and allows smell.

This new study found high levels of this pollutant in the brain of 37 people between the ages of three to 92 years old who lived in heavily polluted areas – Mexico City and Manchester. While many other studies have revealed that the air quality levels in urban areas like this pose severe health risks to its inhabitants, recent research indicates that even clean cities, like in the United States, also impose health issues on their residents.

One of the main contributors to clean cities still being unhealthy for the population is the large presence of diesel operated vehicles – a common source for Magnetite particles. Diesel engines produce up to 22 times more particulates that petrol engines. Other producers of Magnetite include automobile brakes, open fires, leaky stoves and printer toners.

It’s estimated that nearly 6,500 people die early every year in the United States alone due to air pollution. The United Kingdom reports more than 40,000 deaths.

The results of this study reveals that even low levels of air pollution can produce harmful effects on human health, not only in relation to lung disease and heart attacks, but now also neurological damage.

Recent studies have suggested that people who live in highly polluted areas were 50 percent more likely to have cognitive disorders and mental health issues. This research correlates with other studies that compared healthy brains with Alzheimer’s effected brains where higher than normal levels of Magnetite found inside the brain correlated with the disease.

Unfortunately, researchers have not yet sampled brains from non-urban areas, which would be necessary to establish a direct link between air pollution, Magnetite accumulation and the effects on the brain. This type of epidemiological study correlating likely magnetite exposure and neurodegenerative disease is one area that still requires future research.

Many people are taking proactive steps to reduce their exposure to air pollution while indoors in order to maintain better health. The most effective way to do this is through the use on an air purifier.

An air purifying device cleans the air around you by stripping it of harmful toxins and particles. The result is clean, fresh air that is healthier for you to breathe.

We have in-depth reviews on all of the major types of air cleaners on the market available to you for free on our website. This will help you find the best one for your home or office space. Take a look at our air purifier product reviews section to find out which device may be right for you.