Pathophysiological Effects of Particulate Matter Air Pollution on the Central Nervous System

by Thy Annie Nguyen

Human activities have severely impacted air quality. Whereas cardiovascular disease and respiratory conditions have been the main concern in assessing the adverse effects of air pollution, neurological impacts are recently being studied and are equally important. Wright and Ding (2016) review the many adverse effects of particulate matter (PM) exposure and the implications of increased air pollution in highly urbanized communities. From short-term insults to long-term diseases, it was found that PM from air pollution was a direct cause of a myriad neurological diseases as well as increasing mortality and cardiovascular morbidity. PM air pollution consists of “metals, dust, various organic compounds, and microorganisms suspended within aerosolized droplets.” When inhaled, ultrafine PM is small enough to cross blood and mucous barriers, travelling to the brain and other parts of the central nervous system. As ultrafine PM enters these sites, they may directly cause insults on neurological systems through inflammation, inhibiting blood flow, decreased brain volume, increases oxidative stress, and much more. For example, long-term exposure to ultrafine PM has been shown to lead to vascular conditions such as hypertension and atherosclerosis. In addition, blockages in blood vessel in the brain have been strongly associated with increased likelihoods of stroke. Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts Human Health






by Kaylee Anderson

Climate change has been found to play a role in many health issues across the globe because of the broad range of its effects on the environment.Franchini et al. (2015) do a current review showing that the increased temperatures, greater frequency of extreme weather events, increased air pollution, decreased safe water, and lower crop yields are only some of the impacts on our planet. The impact on these resources can be correlated which many public health issues. Extreme weather events, such as heat waves, affect several components of health, including, higher morality and greater susceptibility to chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease and can also exacerbate pre-existing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. Heat waves are typically associated with drought, contributing greatly to the occurrence of wildfires, and therefore, increases in smoke emissions, which are correlated with increased hospital admissions for respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Additionally, drought and heat have adverse effects on food production. Many low-income countries are seeing higher death rates of children under 5 due to malnutrition-induced pneumonia. In low-income countries, the drought forces lesser quality of hygiene, which ultimately increases the frequency of diarrheal diseases.

Lastly, the air quality worsens due to particulate matter, which can enter the blood stream and increase premature mortality. Aeroallergens are also more prevalent, which has led to more allergy-related hospitalizations and higher rates of allergic sensitization.

Ultimately, climate change influences a broad range of health issues, including nutrition, infectious diseases, allergies, and cardiovascular disease.

Franchini, M. & Mannucci, P.M.,2015. Impact on human health of climate changes. Eur. J. Intern. Med. 26, 1-5.




Changes in Measuring Air Quality in California

by Emily Segal

Particulate Matter (PM) is an air pollutant that when large enough can be seen as soot or smoke, and when small enough, can only be observed using an electron microscope. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are especially dangerous because they can be inhaled into the respiratory system and can lodge in the lungs. Scientists have been studying the quantity of particulate matter in the air for a while, but between 1988 and 2013, the system for monitoring this air pollutant underwent many changes. Essentially, the old way of measuring PM2.5, through traditional filter sampling, was replaced by the more effective method of using Beta Attenuation Monitors (BAM). It is important to have a monitoring network that operates frequently and in many areas because this data can then be compared to data from various hospitals in order to draw conclusions about the connections between PM2.5 concentrations and health consequences. Additionally, the real-time nature of BAM can help make short-term forecasts for air qualities in different regions. This was not possible previously because traditional filter sampling had many delays caused by transporting, conditioning, and weighting filters before any conclusions about the actual PM2.5 measurement could be made. Continue reading