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article imageOp-Ed: Vehicle emissions cause ‘significant’ brain damage in mice

By Paul Wallis     Apr 14, 2011 in Health
Recent studies into toxicity of vehicle emissions have shown evidence of the effects of freeway pollution on mouse brain cells. This is a particularly significant test, dealing with a universal atmospheric situation, and the results are grim.
Pollution has gone out of fashion as an environmental issue. It’s now just another area of public interest which has been left to decay. The fact is that industrial and vehicle emissions are toxic by definition.
This is one of my pet subjects, and I must admit now that I’m no fan of the car dating back to the Model T. However, the results of this test are so important that opinions are secondary to the core findings:
According to University of Southern California (2011, April 13). Vehicle pollution significantly damages the brain, mouse study suggests. ScienceDaily., the test found:
The authors found a way to recreate air laden with freeway particulate matter inside the laboratory. Whether in a test tube or in live mice, brain cells showed similar responses:
· Neurons involved in learning and memory showed significant damage,
· The brain showed signs of inflammation associated with premature aging and Alzheimer's disease,
· Neurons from developing mice did not grow as well.
This isn’t actually quite new science, but it's a valuable new approach to a very major area of study. Australia’s CSIRO did a similar study into airborne carbon nano particulates some years ago, but in relation to the mechanics of how these particles behave in the body. The result was pretty gruesome. Particulates of this extremely small size can get into the organs, and they’re potentially very dangerous as active agents inside the body.
This translates into one message- Billions of tons of emissions in the air aren’t good for anyone, including mice. This initial study has opened up a lot of avenues for further research, most importantly including research into the chemical cocktails of interacting emissions. The atmosphere is full of other things that produce emissions like paint, glues, furniture, and other not-very-wholesome things. The sheer range of interactions, and the further issue of things like photochemical smog, is the primary whole-environment approach to the subject.
The researchers have commented that if it proves emissions are harmful, it would be a difficult situation to manage. This statement would be hilarious, if it wasn’t the gospel truth.
Consider:
· If you drink petrol, it will kill you or severely damage organs which come into contact with it.
· If inhaled, people report immediate effects on the brain, including hallucinations, etc.
· Vehicle emissions are simply the oxidized version of petrol, slightly more complex because of chemical compounds, but the essentially the same thing.
What’s to prove?
When has pollution of any kind ever been considered “safe”?
These are exactly the same chemicals produced by the Industrial Revolution, carbon based with a range of familiar culprits like sulfur, nitrates and other highly active chemicals. The human race is living in something very like an atmospheric acid bath.
Anyway- To whom does one prove anything any more?
1. A collection of politicians who will deny anything on principle?
2. A media which simply acts as a soapbox for vested interests on environmental issues?
3. Business, which seems to think nothing is real unless there’s a dollar sign attached to it?
To put this in perspective- A basic filter costing about 5 cents to make can reduce emissions drastically. Any high school chemistry student could make one. Is that happening? No, because it’s “added cost affecting the bottom line”. It’s also common sense, but dollars beat sense any day.
In about 500 years, the 21st century will look like the Dark Ages, and about as unsanitary. People will ask why something as basic as not breathing toxic gases was apparently so difficult to achieve. Historians will try to describe the sheer ignorance of this time in history the same way we try to describe the lack of comprehension of the Plague.
The answer is much simpler: Sheer stupidity. We know the issues, and the needs of the situation. The problem is getting it through the solid Styrofoam brains of people claiming to be able to manage issues.
Cyanide kills more quickly than a bullet. If someone was putting pure cyanide into any area where people might be affected, even political whores, media idiots and business gargoyles and their apologists would understand the issues. But if it’s a more complex process, and people aren’t actually dead, just looking like it and acting like it, they don’t get it.
The most likely result of any significant effort to do anything about vehicle emissions is likely to be something like warnings on cigarette packets:
Destroying your planet’s atmosphere may seriously damage your megalomania when everyone drops dead.
Fossil fuels will fossilize your brain.
More likely, however, is that Big Pharma will get on to the case:
Feeling neurotic? Wipe out your neurons with our new wonder drug, Carboniferous Cretinzine, just $500 per tablet.
The social drug everyone’s talking about, now with added Alzheimer’s. Don’t worry about the price, you won’t even remember buying it.
I wish the researchers the best of luck with their efforts, but I’d also suggest researching a way of making the issues clear to the prime human exponents of the symptoms they’ve found.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
More about vehicle emissions, emissions toxicology, University of southern california, Science daily
 
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