Toxic air pollution particles have been found in the lungs, livers, and brains of unborn babies, even before they take their first breath, according to a new study. This is extremely worrisome as the gestation period is when fetuses are the most vulnerable during human development.

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New research published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health found air pollution particles in every sample of lung, liver, and brain that they examined. They also found those toxic particles in every sample of umbilical cord blood and placentas. They found that the concentration of particles was higher when the mother lived at higher levels of air pollution.

The study was conducted with non-smoking mothers in Scotland and Belgium, in areas with relatively low air pollution. The team examined 36 fetuses in Scotland that were from voluntary terminations of normal pregnancies between seven to 20 weeks of gestation. In Belgium, they took cord blood samples after 60 healthy births.

“The findings are especially concerning because this window of exposure is key to organ development,” the scientists said.

They found thousands of black carbon particles in each cubic millimeter of tissue. Air pollution has previously been coordinated to increase miscarriages, premature births, low birth weights, and disturbed brain development. The new study proves that there is direct evidence of how the harm is caused.

Prof Tim Nawrot at Hasselt University in Belgium, who co-led the study, said: “Air quality regulation should recognise this [air pollution] transfer during gestation and act to protect the most susceptible stages of human development,” Prof Tim Nawrot, who co-led the study, said.

Air pollution is an invisible killer and has been linked to so many diseases, including fatty liver disease, depression, and other mental health issues, and a study even found that nearly 6 million babies born prematurely in 2019 were likely linked to air pollution. Eating meat has been linked to a rise in air pollution, and factory farms are one of the biggest to blame for our dirty air. According to the WHO, an estimated 4.2 million people every year are killed by outdoor air pollution, and 99 percent of the global population breathes air that exceeds WHO guideline limits, with low and middle-income areas disproportionately affected.

Check out these eco-artists that are using their art to call attention to the massive problem of air pollution and sign the petition to demand federal clean-up of disproportionately affected polluted areas in the United States.

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