OK, this is horrifying, if not surprising, news. The worst part of this article is the statement by the scientist involved that there isn’t much people can do until more scientific study and regulatory change occurs. We all know that can take decades. And there are things you can do to protect yourself and your family from the damage of particulate matter from automobiles. Move away from high-traffic cities. Telecommute to reduce your exposure and the concentration of these noxious gases. Switch to a lower-emission vehicle. Use mass transit. Support legislation for alternative fuels and renewable energies. Ok, there’s a start. Here’s why:
In as little as three months, the brains of laboratory rats begin to change after being exposed to the air around congested Southern California freeways.
“The evidence we are clearly seeing is the molecular cascade that can lead to the development of cancer,” said Dr. Keith L. Black, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
“Of all the particulate matter, those coming from diesel appear to be the most worrisome,” he said.Some estimates suggest brain cancers and other tumors of children’s nervous systems rose by more than 25 percent between 1973 and 1996.
“The young brain is more susceptible to environmental toxins that induce cancer,” he said.
The fact that just three months of exposure to air from the Southland’s snarled freeways caused precursors to cancer “has been a surprising finding for us,” Black said.
“If the case for the link to brain cancer is proven, then the information can be used by regulatory agencies to justify reduction of these fine particle emissions from cars and trucks…
“In the meantime, there isn’t much people can do but perhaps avoid strenuous exercise near polluted areas.”
These tiny particles are too small to be filtered out by air conditioning systems, and too small even to be screened by N-95 face masks