HealthCar exhaust's lethal blow to the brain: New studies reveal shocking impact on cognitive function

Car exhaust's lethal blow to the brain: New studies reveal shocking impact on cognitive function

Scientists have presented disturbing research results.
Scientists have presented disturbing research results.
Images source: © Wikimedia Commons

10:33 AM EST, January 10, 2024

Exposure to car exhaust can damage our brain function. According to scientists at the University of British Columbia and the University of Victoria, merely two hours of inhaling diesel exhaust can reduce the "functional connectivity of the brain," which is responsible for interaction and communication between different areas of our brain hemispheres.

Twenty-five healthy volunteers participated in the study. They underwent special magnetic resonance scans before and after being exposed to diesel engine exhaust.

"For many decades, scientists believed that the brain could be protected from the harmful effects of air pollution. This study, the world’s first of its kind, provides new evidence supporting the link between air pollution and cognitive function," says Chris Carlsten from the University of British Columbia.

This could potentially affect our thought processing and work ability. The changes are temporary, though, and the brain returns to normal after some time. But constant exposure to pollution can lead to more serious problems.

How can we limit exposure to exhaust fumes? Primarily, avoid opening the car windows while waiting at traffic lights or being stuck in traffic. Additionally, ensure that your car's air filter is working effectively. It's also advisable not to go for walks or cycle near busy roads. Many cities have concluded that more measures are needed, and thus are gradually implementing Clean Transport Zones.

Can Clean Transport Zones Solve the Problem?

Warsaw has recently announced the introduction of a Clean Transport Zone. Krakow is also planning to do the same, with city authorities considering restrictions across the whole city. From 2024, only petrol cars meeting EURO 3 and higher standards, and diesel cars ensuring at least a EURO 4 standard, will be allowed in Krakow. Over the following years, these standards are expected to raise, ending with EURO 5 (gasoline) and EURO 6d (diesel) by the beginning of 2030.

The German automobile club, ADAC, provides arguments against diesel. In an exhaust purity test, they examined 77 different car models, ranging from electric to hybrid, petrol, and diesel. The lowest-rated included 12 diesel cars and merely two petrol ones.

On the other end of the debate are results from Stuttgart, the birthplace of Mercedes and Porsche. Last year, the city banned all diesel-powered vehicles manufactured before that year. Surprisingly, studies have shown no improvement in air quality at all. However, the city authorities still believe it's the correct approach to the problem and are moving forward with additional restrictions.

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