Air Pollution Tied to DNA Damage
A new study suggests kids and adolescents exposed to high levels of motor vehicle-related pollution experience a specific type of damage to their DNA. Called telomere shortening, this form of DNA damage is typically associated with aging and is also seen in young people with asthma.
The study examined the link between exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)—which are present in motor vehicle exhaust—and damaged DNA in children and teens in Fresno, CA. Fresno is the second most polluted city in the United States.
According to researchers, as PAH exposure increased, telomere length decreased.
Young people with asthma experienced a higher level of exposure to PAHs than those without asthma, but even after adjusting for factors including asthma, the PAH exposure link to telomere shortening was significant. More research is needed to study this effect of air pollution further.