According to researchers from Texas A&M University, harmful particulate matter in the atmosphere can produce birth defects and even fatalities during pregnancy. They came to the conclusion using an animal model during their study.
The study, published in the current issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) was conducted by researchers from Texas A&M's Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Geosciences, the Texas A&M Health Science Center, and colleagues from the University of California-San Diego, who, using female rats examined the adverse health effects of exposure to fine particulate matter consisting of ammonium sulfate commonly found in many locations around the world.
During winter months in China and India, fine particulate matter levels are especially high at several hundred micrograms per cubic meter, the team concluded.
Speaking about the study, lead author Renyi Zhang said that while people typically believe ammonium sulfate is not very toxic, but their results show large impacts on female pregnant rats.
Rats exposed to polluted air during the study showed more stillbirths, shorter pregnancies and lower birth weight of their babies.
Notably, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), 9 out of 10 people worldwide breathe air containing a high level of pollutants, and 1 of every 9 global deaths can be attributed to exposure to air pollution, totalling over 7 million premature deaths a year. Air pollution is a serious health hazard throughout the world that needs urgent action.
Here are ways one can do their bit to curb air pollution:
*Make use of public transport to reduce air pollution. The number of cars outside, more will be the pollution. Furthermore, when purchasing a vehicle, consider fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.
*Planting trees may help us getting all the fresh air we need.
*Try practising an environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible lifestyle.
*Use solar energy as it helps save non-renewable sources of energy.
*Do not keep your lights switched on. Don’t waste energy and money.
*Avoid plastic bags because they are hard to decompose.
*Quit smoking since it is not only very hazardous to the smoker’s health but also to the people around them.
*Educate people around you to lead a healthier, more eco-friendly lifestyle.