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Car exhaust can damage brain cells

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Car exhaust can damage brain cells

Yet another reason to hate the dreaded commute to work - it turns out that vehicle exhaust fumes can damage brain cells.

Yet another reason to hate the dreaded commute to work (as if we needed another) was announced in an article by the Wall Street Journal last week. It turns out that vehicle exhaust fumes can damage brain cells.

A culmination of new research is suggesting that chemicals in the exhaust from cars and trucks have a measureable effect on the brain, impairing learning, decision-making, and memory.

The researchers’ findings don’t only impact drivers—those who live on a busy road or spend time in the city will also be affected.

Moreover, further research has demonstrated that children who live in areas with high levels of exhaust from vehicles had lower intelligence (determined by an IQ test) and a greater number of behavioural problems, including depression and anxiety, than children living in areas without high levels of vehicle exhaust. Chemicals can also cross the placenta in pregnant women, meaning that babies can be impacted by their mothers’ exposure to exhaust before they are even born.

There is one piece of good news—when cars are travelling faster, there is less traffic pollution. While this finding is no excuse to speed, it may encourage the development of infrastructure and systems that lessen traffic congestion.

In contrast, spending time in nature can boost mood, reduce stress, and support the immune system. Reap the benefits by going on a forest walk (away from roads and vehicle exhaust!).

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