New study suggests that air pollution, specifically traffic-related air pollution containing Polycyclic Aromatic Hydorcarbons (PAH) has been linked to the increasing pre-term birth cases in Los Angeles, California which reached up to 30 per cent.
PAHs also known as poly-aromatic hydrocarbons or polynuclear aromatic hydrocarbons, are potent atmospheric pollutants that consist of fused aromatic rings and do not contain heteroatoms or carry substituents. These often are byproducts of petroleum processing or combustion. Many of these compounds are highly carcinogenic at relatively low levels.
The study was published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Environmental Health. It specifically looked into the attributing the effects of specific emission sources or air toxics to premature births in the vicinity. The study reviewed about 100,000 birth certificate records for all births that occurred from June 1, 2004 to March 30, 2006 in Los Angeles, California, within a radius of, five miles of air quality monitoring stations to balance the need for a large sample size with an effort to reduce exposure misclassification assuming air pollution. Then, the researchers identified pre-term birth cases.
Says the CDC, Preterm birth is the birth of an infant at least three weeks before the due date (less than 37 weeks gestation). The risks associated with being born preterm are greater at earlier gestational ages compared to later gestational ages. Death and disability occur more often among these very preterm infants compared to moderately preterm infants. Unfortunately, all preterm infants are at greater risk of death and disability than full-term infants. Infants born preterm are at greater risk for death in the first few days of life, as well as other adverse health outcomes including visual and hearing impairments, intellectual and learning disabilities, and behavioral and emotional problems throughout life. Preterm births also cause substantial emotional and economic burdens for families.
The average of pregnancy period exposures were estimated for a number of air toxics. Analysis of data were achieved through the use of three different information sources which includes land use regression, Chemical Mass Balance model, and criteria air pollutants based on government monitoring data.
Results of the study suggests that pre-term birth cases have increased for about 6-21 per cent for an entire pregnancy exposure the toxins present in the air as a result of vehicle emission and biomass burning. Also, there was an increase of 30 per cent of pre-term births for a pregnancy exposure to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydorcarbons (PAH).
“Air pollution is known to be associated with low birth weight and premature birth. Our results show that traffic-related PAH are of special concern as pollutants, and that PAH sources besides traffic contributed to premature birth. The increase in premature birth risk due to ammonium nitrate particles suggests secondary pollutants are also negatively impacting the health of unborn babies. To reduce the effects of these pollutants on public health, it is important that accurate modeling of local and regional spatial and temporal air pollution be incorporated into pollution policies.” Dr Beate Ritz said.
The researchers concluded by saying that the analysis of the results of the study will give the public more evidence on the detrimental impact of traffic-related air pollutions, more specifically with Polycyclic Aromatic Hydorcarbons (PAH) toxins.