Industrial Air Pollutant May Be Linked to Neurological Ills Like Alzheimer’s

Industrial Air Pollutant May Be Linked to Neurological Ills Like Alzheimer’s
An air pollutant found in industrial areas, magnetite, could be contributing to the development of neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), according to new study out of the United Kingdom and Mexico. The study, "Magnetite pollution nanoparticles in the human brain," was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Physicist Barbara Maher, co-director of the Centre for Environmental Magnetism and Paleomagnetism at Lancaster University in the U.K., sought to understand whether magnetite in the human brain comes from pollution, since the compound is a common component of the smoke emitted from power plants. Magnetite is a magnetic mineral made up of iron and oxygen. Maher and colleagues studied brain samples from the frontal cortex of 37 people who had died of various causes. The samples came from people who had lived in Mexico City and in Manchester, U.K. The scientists used several imaging techniques to determine the level of magnetite in the brain samples. Researchers found nanosphere magnetite particles, which is unusual because magnetite is typically tetrahedral or octahedral. They also found platinum, nickel, and cobalt, all metals not naturally found in the brain. This indicated that the deposits likely came from the environment. According to Maher, nanospheres also likely suggest that the particles came from environmental pollution. "They showed all the properties suggesting they formed in high temperatures. [The nanospheres are] combustion byproducts, like what’s found in power station pollution,” she said in an
Subscribe or to access all post and page content.