View Full Version : Bad air linked to cancer-causing gene changes in fetuses

Feb 23rd, 2005, 06:38 AM

Bad air linked to cancer-causing gene changes in fetuses

Outside air pollution can work in the womb to change the chromosomes of developing fetuses, a new study shows.



WASHINGTON - Air pollution from traffic and power plants seems to cause genetic changes -- the kind linked to cancer -- in developing fetuses, a federally funded study released Tuesday has concluded.

A first-of-its-kind study of 60 pregnant women in poor areas of New York City used backpacks to monitor the women's exposure to airborne carcinogens and then tested their babies' umbilical-cord blood after birth. Babies whose moms were exposed to higher pollution levels had 53 percent more aberrations in their chromosomes. Other studies have shown that these types of chromosomal changes increase the risk of cancer.

''This finding shows the process can begin as early as the womb as a result of air pollution,'' said Frederica Perera, the director of Columbia University's Center for Children's Environmental Health. ``We know that these pollutants make their way across the placenta.''

Perera's study didn't determine what parts of the babies' genes changed or if they all changed in the same areas. The peer-reviewed study -- funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and published in this month's journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention -- links in-the-womb chromosome damage to elevated exposure to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs.

There are more than 100 PAHs, which are the byproducts of combustion, including car and truck exhaust, power plant emissions, tobacco smoke and even the smoke from grilling meats. Fifteen of the most common PAHs are listed as carcinogens in the official government list of cancer-causing agents. Perera and Kenneth Olden, the director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said the new study should make federal officials look toward improving prevention methods.

Feb 23rd, 2005, 07:15 AM
I live in an apartment on a semi-busy road and always worry about this! This wasn't my choice of place to live, as it was where my boyfriend was living when I came to Canada.

I want to move off this road and to a quieter area sooooo much! Hopefully that will happen in the not-too-distant future!!