PUTNEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10:  Exhaust fumes from a car in Putney High Street on January 10, 2013 in Putney, England. Local media are reporting local environmental campaigners claims that levels of traffic pollutants, mostly nitrogen dioxide, have breached upper safe limits in the busy street in south west London.  (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
PUTNEY, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Exhaust fumes from a car in Putney High Street on January 10, 2013 in Putney, England. Local media are reporting local environmental campaigners claims that levels of traffic pollutants, mostly nitrogen dioxide, have breached upper safe limits in the busy street in south west London. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

London: Scientists have for the first time discovered tiny magnetic particles from air pollution lodged in human brains – which could be a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease, according to PTI.

Researchers at Lancaster University in the UK found abundant magnetite nanoparticles in the brain tissue from 37 individuals aged three to 92-years-old who lived in Mexico City and Manchester.

This strongly magnetic mineral is toxic and has been implicated in the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) in the human brain, which are associated with neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease.

Professor Barbara Maher, from Lancaster Environment Centre, used spectroscopic analysis to identify the particles as magnetite.
Unlike angular magnetite particles that are believed to form naturally within the brain, most of the observed particles were spherical, with diameters up to 150 nanometres (nm), some with fused surfaces, pointing to high-temperature formation – such as from vehicle engines or open fires.

The spherical particles are often accompanied by nanoparticles containing other metals, such as platinum, nickel, and cobalt.
“The particles we found are strikingly similar to the magnetite nanospheres that are abundant in the airborne pollution found in urban settings, especially next to busy roads, and which are formed by combustion or frictional heating from vehicle engines or brakes,” said Maher.

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