A small study conducted by researchers from Lancaster University found that toxic nanoparticles from air pollution were present in human brains.
Specifically, the study found magnetite, a type of iron oxide in the brain tissue of subjects from the United Kingdom and Mexico, aged between three and 92 years old. The presence of magnetite in the human brain has been linked to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, and exposure to air pollution has been found to significantly increase the risk of developing the illness.
Magnetite is known to form naturally in brain tissue, but the organic variety is small and shaped like crystals. In contrast, the particles linked to air pollution and suspected to be hazardous, are large and spherical, shaped as droplets from pollution linked particles that are the by-product of industrial processes and vehicle exhaust.
The study further found other metal particles in the brain, suspected to come from car exhaust, such as platinum, cobalt, and nickel. Research suggests that these metals build up in the body because of the way the body processes inhaled substances. Air pollution completely bypasses the blood brain barrier because harmful particles directly enter the brain through the respiratory tract.