Children and teenagers exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have a type of DNA damage called telomere shortening, reports a study in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Preliminary research by a team at the University of California found that children and young people with asthma also show telomere shortening. The results suggest that telomere length could be used as an indicator of DNA damage due to pollution in the air.
The study was carried out in a city with one of the highest pollution levels in the USA and looked at the relationship between polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs; an air pollutant from motor vehicle exhausts) and shortening of telomeres (a type of DNA damage that is typically associated with aging).
The study adds to previous evidence that air pollution can damage DNA. It also suggests that children may be more vulnerable to the damaging effects of air pollution.
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