Study: Valley air pollution altering DNA

Stanford and UC Berkeley researchers report an association between PAH and low T-cells in children.
BAKERSFIELD, CA - New research suggests the valley's air pollution could be altering our DNA.

The groundbreaking study from Stanford and UC Berkeley said asthmatic children in Fresno also have low T-cell counts, the cells crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system.

"If I see a patient with severe bronchial asthma taking a bunch of medication and still the quality of life is poor, I would tell them to leave this place," said Bakersfield pulmonary specialist Dr. Mushtaq Ahmed.

Ahmed said he believes there's a direct connection between the respiratory problems of his patients and the air they breathe.

"People who had never been asthmatic become asthmatic here," said Ahmed. "So, there's always cause-relation. Air pollution is the biggest issue we have."

Recently, researchers from Stanford and UC Berkeley showed exposure to valley air pollution seemed to suppress a gene, suggesting the bad air is changing and altering our DNA.

The study says emissions of gasoline, diesel, natural gas, and wood-burning create polysilic aeromatic hydrocarbons [PAH] that when inhaled, will weaken healthy immune fighting T-cells in children.

"This is a mechanism at the molecular level, all the way down to the way your immune system works and the genes that control, that shows we have some change in immune function, and the genes that control that immune function are altered," said Kern Medical Center respiratory specialist, Dr. Royce Johnson.

The study only looked at children, but Kern County doctors said they suspect air pollution has damaging effects on a larger population.

"The compounds can be transmitted from mother to unborn baby," said Johnson. "So, we may be seeing some of these genetic defects occurring even before you're born."

Bakersfield doctors said they'd like to see epidemiologic studies done across the valley to prove if pollution is changing our bodies.
Page: [[$index + 1]]
comments powered by Disqus

Bakersfield, CA

76°F
77°F
52°F
Clear