Breathing in Delhi air equivalent to smoking 44 cigarettes a day

It was early on the morning when residents in the Indian capital of Delhi first began to notice the thick white haze that had descended across the city. Initially viewed as a mild irritant, by mid-week its debilitating effects were evident to all, as the city struggled to adapt to the new eerie, martian-like conditions brought about by the pollution.

The World Health Organization considers anything above 25 to be unsafe. That measure is based on the concentration of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, per cubic meter. The microscopic particles, which are smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter, are considered particularly harmful because they are small enough to lodge deep into the lungs and pass into other organs, causing serious health risks.
With visibility severely reduced, trains have been canceled, planes delayed and cars have piled into each other, with multiple traffic accidents reported across the city. On the afternoon, city chiefs closed all public and private schools, requesting instead that the city’s tens of thousands of school-aged children remain indoors; they banned incoming trucks and halted civil construction projects; while they announced new plans to begin implementing a partial ban on private car use as of next week. But as the city woke up to a fourth straight day of heavy pollution, practical considerations were being overtaken by more serious concerns, with journalists and doctors warning residents of the long-term health implications.

Air quality readings in the Indian capital have reached frightening levels in recent days, at one point topping the 1,000 mark on the US embassy air quality index. Across the capital, doctors reported a surge in patients complaining of chest pain, breathlessness and burning eyes. “The number of patients have increased obviously,” said Deepak Rosha, a pulmonologist at Apollo Hospital, one of the largest private hospitals in Delhi. “I don’t think it’s ever been so bad in Delhi. I’m very angry that we’ve had to come to this.”
Breathing in air with a PM2.5 content of between 950 to 1,000 is considered roughly equivalent to smoking 44 cigarettes a day, according to the independent Berkeley Earth science research group.

Nanoparticles From Air Pollution Travel Into Blood To Cause Heart Disease

Inhaled nanoparticles – like those released from vehicle exhausts – can work their way through the lungs and into the bloodstream, potentially raising the risk of heart attack and stroke, according to new research part-funded by the British Heart Foundation. The findings, published today in the journal ACS Nano, build on previous studies that have found tiny particles in air pollution are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, although the cause remains unproven. However, this research shows for the first time that inhaled nanoparticles can gain access to the blood in healthy individuals and people at risk of stroke. Most worryingly, these nanoparticles tend to build-up in diseased blood vessels where they could worsen coronary heart disease – the cause of a heart attack.

It is not currently possible to measure environmental nanoparticles in the blood. So, researchers from the University of Edinburgh, and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment in the Netherlands, used a variety of specialist techniques to track the fate of harmless gold nanoparticles breathed in by volunteers. They were able to show that these nanoparticles can migrate from the lungs and into the bloodstream within 24 hours after exposure and were still detectable in the blood three months later. By looking at surgically removed plaques from people at high risk of stroke they were also able to find that the nanoparticles accumulated in the fatty plaques that grow inside blood vessels and cause heart attacks and strokesCardiovascular disease (CVD) – the main forms of which are coronary heart disease and stroke – accounts for 80% of all premature deaths from air pollution.

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It is striking that particles in the air we breathe can get into our blood where they can be carried to different organs of the body. Only a very small proportion of inhaled particles will do this, however, if reactive particles like those in air pollution then reach susceptible areas of the body then even this small number of particles might have serious consequences,”  said Dr Mark Miller, Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh who led the study.

Source: http://www.cvs.ed.ac.uk/

How To Prevent Babies Bronchiolitis

A vaccine containing virus-like nanoparticles, or microscopic, genetically engineered particles, is an effective treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to researchers at Georgia State University.

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Healthy people usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two. But RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. In addition, RSV is being recognized more often as a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.

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Recombinant engineered nanoparticle vaccines might be developed to prevent highly contagious respiratory pathogens such as RSV, as reported in this study,” said Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State.

In the study, mice were vaccinated with either 1) FG VLPs or virus-like nanoparticles expressing RSV fusion (F) and attachment glycoproteins (G) or 2) FI-RSV or formalin-inactivated RSV, which failed clinical vaccine trials in the 1960s because it caused severe vaccine-enhanced respiratory disease. The mice were infected with live RSV pathogen one year later after vaccination.

Mice vaccinated with FG VLPs showed no obvious sign of severe pulmonary disease in tissue examinations upon RSV infection and significantly lower levels of eosinophils, T-cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines, but higher levels of antibodies and interferon-g antiviral cytokine, which are correlated with protection against RSV disease.

Their findings, have been published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, and suggest this vaccine induces long-term protection against RSV. There is no licensed RSV vaccine.

Source; http://news.gsu.edu/

How To Measure Nanoparticles In Cosmetics

Cosmetics increasingly contain nanoparticles. One especially sensitive issue is the use of the miniscule particles in cosmetics, since the consumer comes into direct contact with the products. Sunscreen lotions for example have nanoparticles of titanium oxide. They provide UV protection: like a film made of infinite tiny mirrors, they are applied to the skin and reflect UV rays. But these tiny particles are controversial. They can penetrate the skin if there is an injury, and trigger an inflammatory reaction. Its use in spray-on sunscreens is also problematic. Scientists fear that the particles could have a detrimental effect on the lungs when inhaled. Even the effect on the environment has not yet been adequately researched. Studies indicate that the titanium oxide which has seeped into public beaches through sunscreens can endanger environmental balance. Therefore, a labeling requirement has been in force since July 2013, based on an EU Directive on cosmetics and body care products. If nano-sized ingredients are used in a product, the manufacturer must make this fact clear by adding “nano-” to the listed ingredient name. Due to requirements imposed by the legislature, the need for analysis methods is huge.

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The light diffusion process and microscopy are not selective enough for a lot of studies, including toxicological examinations,” says Gabriele Beck-Schwadorf, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart (Germany). The group manager and her team have advanced and refined an existing measurement method in a way that allows them to determineResearchers measure individual particles by single particle, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (or SP-ICP-MS). “With this method, I determine mass. Titanium has an atomic mass of 48 AMUs (atomic mass units). If I set the spectrometer to that, then I can target the measurement of titanium,” explains Katrin Sommer, food chemist at IGB.

Source: http://www.fraunhofer.de/