Study Shows Exposure to Diesel Fumes Impairs Brain Function

A new study has shown that even a short exposure to common levels of traffic pollution can impair human brain function.

In this first-of-its-kind study from the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria, researchers exposed 25 adults to diesel exhaust and filtered air at different times inside a lab. The pollutant was freshly-generated then diluted and aged to mimic actual conditions.

The participants’ brain activities were measured before and after exposure to the fumes using functional magnetic resonance imaging (in layman’s terms, a device that measures blood flow in the brain), to determine changes in the regions of the brain that controls memory and internal thought.

The fMRI showed that exposure to diesel fumes resulted in “decreased functional connectivity” in these regions, which can lead to “reduced cognitive performance” and “symptoms of depression”.

While the effects during the study were temporary and connectivity resumed as per normal after the exposure ended, one of the study’s senior author, Dr. Chris Carlsten, professor and head of respiratory medicine, believes that the effects could be long-lasting if exposure had been continuous.

“People may want to think twice the next time they’re stuck in traffic with the windows rolled down,” said Dr. Carlsten “It’s important to ensure that your car’s air filter is in good working order, and if you’re walking or biking down a busy street, consider diverting to a less busy route.”

If policymakers were to get their hands on this study, they would immediately double their efforts to convert all ICE-powered vehicles on the road to electric cars. But hold on. Dr Carlsten did say that while the study looked at traffic-derived pollution, other combustion by-products are also potential sources of pollution.

He added, “I expect we would see similar impacts on the brain from exposure to other air pollutants, like forest fire smoke.” Or, this author would like to point out, the powerplants that use fossil fuel to generate electricity for the so-called zero-emission EVs.

Perhaps the more effective and immediate action we should take is to reduce the pollutants that our current vehicles are emitting, such as using this Diesel Decarboniser by X-1R that can restore the inside of the engine to as new condition, thus giving us improved fuel economy and lowering emissions.

X-1R, good for your car and, thanks to the study we now also know, good for your brains too.

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