Chromatography Takes a Closer Look at Pollution & Cognitive Behaviour
Apr 18 2019
Air pollution is a very hot topic. There are regular news items regarding the air quality in the towns, cities and even rural areas where we live. The World Health Organization estimates that nine out of ten people are breathing polluted air, which leads to seven million deaths per year. Up to one third of deaths from stroke, heart disease and lung cancer are attributed to air pollution - with current air pollution levels in some areas said to be equivalent to smoking cigarettes.
Researchers are looking at new methods of assessing air quality and even looking at the effects of air quality on our cognitive functions as well as physiological damage. In a recent paper published in the journal Methods X - Alzheimer and depressive cognitive-like behaviors in male and female rats: A new method for exposure to ambient air pollution - researchers in Iran have investigated a new method for assessing the ambient exposure to air pollution. And chromatography played its part.
Air pollution - gases and particles
There are a number of different types of air pollutants, which all have an adverse effect on human health. According to the UK’s Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the most common air pollutants include:
- Nitrogen Dioxide, Sulphur Dioxide and Ozone which are gases that can irritate the linings of the lungs,
- Fine particles that can be carried into the lungs causing inflammation, they can also cause a worsening of existing lung and heart conditions, and
- Carbon Dioxide which prevents the uptake of oxygen by the blood. This can lead to a reduction in oxygen supply to the heart.
Separating gas from particles
In the paper referenced above, the authors state that in ‘previous studies regarding the effects of exposure to ambient air pollution on biological markers and/or behavior of animals, the gaseous pollutants are not separated from the particulate matter (PM).’ The researchers derived a new method for separating PM from gaseous pollutants. The team also investigated the exposure to PM on the cognitive behaviour of rats.
Chromatography was used to analyse some of the pollutants in PM and gaseous samples. The use of chromatography to analyse other environmental samples is discussed in the article, Detection of molecular markers in aquatic sediments by ion profiles obtained by GC/MS system. The team report that:
Exposure to PM2.5 and gaseous pollutants separately cannot significantly increase Alzheimer and depressive cognitive-like behaviors in the rats after both 3- and 6-months exposure. Also, a significant difference between male and female in Alzheimer and depressive cognitive-like behaviors not observed.
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