July 30, 2019

Air Pollution Harms Reproductive Health

As a follow -up to the recent scientific meeting “Air Pollution Harms Reproductive Health” held in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 1, 2019 we will present over the next several months scientific findings from the scientists who spoke at this well attended and stimulating meeting.

Here we present work presented by David Q. Rich, ScD, Associate Professor of Public Health Sciences, Environmental Medicine, and Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.  In Monroe County, New York, up to 30% of ambient wintertime PM2.5 is from wood burning. In 16,637 births increased concentrations of Delta -C, a marker of wood smoke, was associated with an increased odds of early onset pre-eclampsia.  Pre-eclampsia is a pregnancy specific elevation of blood pressure that is very serious and affects the well-being of both mother and infant.  He and his colleagues linked electronic medical records and birth certificate data with land use regression models to predict monthly pollutant concentrations from November to April. His work demonstrates that exposure to wood smoke during pregnancy is to be avoided and has implications for young families, there health care providers and public health authorities.

Reference: Assibey-Mensah V, Glantz JC, Hopke PK, Justo TA, Thevenet-Morrison K, Chalupa D, Rich DQ. Ambient wintertime particulate air pollution and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy in Monroe County, NY. Environ Health 2019: 168:28-31.

Amy Padula. PhD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of California San Francisco presented data from the California Center of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and the Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study that investigated whether exposure to traffic-related air pollution (nitrogen oxide, nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide) and particulate matter less than 10 and 2.5 microns in the first two months of pregnancy contributed to the risk of 30 structural birth defects in the San Joaquin Valley in 1997-2006. They also studied whether gene variants in enzyme pathways modified this relationship. They observed a two to three -fold increased odds of neural tube defects (spina bifida), other birth defects (cleft lip, gastroschisis, tetralogy of Fallot and dextro-Transposition of the great arteries) did not show a consistent risk. However, this changed when gene variants were also factored into the equation.  These gene-environment interactions demonstrated increase risk for spina bifida, and dextro-Transposition of the great arteries.  This suggests that some individuals based on their genetic background may be more susceptible to the adverse effects of air pollution.  They concluded that certain traffic -related air pollutants are risk factors for neural tube defects (spina bifida).

Brian Moench, MD, President, Utah Phyisicians for a Healthy Environment, presented an overview of studies demonstrating that both ozone and particulate matter air polluiton provoke local and systemtic inflammation and the particulate matter penetrates cellular structures of critical organs including the placenta.  Chemcals attached to nanoparticles represent the primary toxins in particulate matter pollution and potentially interfer with genetic and epigenetic function and organogenesis.  Air pollution's impact on fetal development represents a serious health prblem.