Toxic air pollution found in the lungs and brains of unborn babies | The Sun

BABIES have toxic air pollution particles in their lungs even before they take their first breath, research has revealed.

Experts found that "black carbon particles" – sometimes known as soot particles – can get into the organs of growing foetuses at crucial developmental stages.

The researchers from University of Aberdeen, UK, and Hasselt University, Belgium, said the results were "especially concerning” as black carbon particles were also found in the brains of foetuses.

"This means that it is possible for these nanoparticles to directly interact with control systems within human foetal organs and cells," co-leader of the study Professor Paul Fowler of Aberdeen University said.

Earlier research found these dangerous particles were in the placenta of pregnant women.

But until now there had been no solid evidence that they could reach the unborn baby.

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The study, published in The Lancet Planetary Health, found unborn babies are exposed to just as much air pollution as their mothers breathed in while pregnant.

This is because the nanoparticles can cross through the bloodstream and placenta into the foetus.

Black carbon is one of the many particles and gases that are emitted when diesel, coal and other biomass fuels are burned.

Air pollution had previously been linked to increased miscarriages, premature births and low birth weights.

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The study was conducted with 60 non-smoking mothers in Scotland and Belgium, in places with relatively low air pollution.

They also analysed tissue samples from 36 foetuses which had been aborted.

The research team found the presence of soot particles in the livers, lungs and brains of all the aborted foetuses and placentas.

Prof Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who co-led the study, said: “Air quality regulation should recognise this [air pollution] transfer during gestation and act to protect the most susceptible stages of human development.”

Harriet Wilson-Edwards, senior policy and project manager at Asthma + Lung UK, told The Sun that “air pollution and the effects it has on our health cannot and should not be overstated".

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"Toxic air causes lung cancer, triggers existing conditions and is ultimately responsible for 36,000 premature deaths in the UK every year.

"We need to see strong leadership from government to tackle this issue and to commit to bolder air pollution targets this month as they finalise the Environment Act, before a new generation of babies and children are forced to grow up breathing dirty, polluted air," they added.

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