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Vehicle Nanoparticles

May 3, 2011

Nano-sized particles from vehicles damage brain cells, according to an animal study.



Vehicles versus the brain…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If commuting makes you feel like you’re losing your mind, you may be all too right. Recent evidence suggests that vehicle pollution damages the brain as well as the lungs. The latest comes from University of Southern California neurobiologist Caleb Finch. His group looked at the tiniest airborne pollutants, called nano-particles, which are the hardest to control.

CALEB FINCH (University of Southern California):

These are not filtered by catalytic converters, they’re not trapped by any of the recognized building filters, and they are thus far not on the EPA’s list of health hazards.


In both live mice and cultured rat cells, Finch’s team found that the nano-particles damaged neurons associated with learning and memory. They also caused inflammation suggestive of premature aging, and stunted the growth of developing brain cells. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.