Fuming?

March 12, 2008

Diesel fuelled cars, the greener alternative to petrol run vehicles emitting less CO2 and better fuel efficiency.  

Better for the environment but what about our health? 

A new study released this week claims that inhaling diesel exhaust fumes triggers a stress response in the brain.  

A research team from the Netherlands used 10 volunteers in an enclosed room to expose them to typical levels of diesel fumes found in a busy street. 

The volunteers were exposed to the fumes inside the room for an hour where their brains were scanned and monitored. Once they left the fume filled room the researchers continued scanning. To gain comparative data the research was repeated without the fumes. 

The researchers found that within half an hour of breathing in the diesel fumes there was increased brain activity in the cortex which causes stress. This activity continued to increase after the volunteers had left the enclosure of the room.

Oxygen deprivation in the heart has been speculated to be another bodily response to diesel fumes.

It is still unclear what part of diesel pollution cause these effects. However previous research on rats suggest that minuscule soot particles, major components of diesel exhausts make their way directly to the brain which can only be speculated to be responsible for the effects on the brain.

Research leader Paul Borm said “Further studies are necessary to explore this effect and to assess the relationship between the amount of exposure to particles and the brain’s response, and investigate the clinical implications of these novel findings.”

A spokes person from the ETA (Environmental Transport Association) commented on the environmental health implications of diesel fumes “There is a popular belief that due to their lower average CO2 emissions, diesels are better for the planet. Unfortunately it appears that it is people, particularly those in built-up areas, that may be paying the price”.

The ETA also suggest using their car buyers guide and green driving advice to help reduce your impact on the environment when buying or driving a car.

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