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the effect of air pollution and second hand-smoking on the brain

the effect of air pollution and second hand-smoking on the brain

the effect of air pollution and second hand-smoking on the brain


Today, pollution is a controversial topic in the world. Air pollution involves the introduction of contaminants into the air causing adverse changes. The most common form of air pollutants includes factories, smokers, and cars. Research has been done on the effect of air pollution on the human body. Air pollution causes lungs and heart ailments as the two organs play an important role in the supply of oxygen. However, 60% percent of the air that a person inhales goes to the brain causing damage. The paper compares a popular science article with a scientific primary literature manuscript to critically evaluate the way scientific findings are reported by the media.

The original scientific literature describes the effect of secondhand smoke on the brain. The smoke has a direct and measurable impact on the brain identical to the smoker. Thus, there is a need to limit a person’s exposure to secondhand smoke in enclosed spaces and cars. For instance, tobacco is a leading source of preventable death globally. Smokers are 6 times more likely to suffer a heart attack compared to non-smokers. It is also one of the strongest causes of cancer as it contributes to up to 90% of lung cancer deaths.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers statistics of people who die from cigarette smoke. Almost 50,000 deaths occur annually due to secondhand smoke (NIH Research Matters, 2011). In 2006, A Surgeon General Report indicated that secondhand smoke results to lung cancer and heart ailment in smoking adults. The secondhand smoker’s causes serious heath situations in children. The health condition includes sudden infant death syndrome, severe asthma, and respiratory infections.

There is a probability that children will become teenage smokers due to early exposure to secondhand smoke. Also, from previous research, it is hard for adult smokers to quit. The laboratory studies offer insight into the techniques that work. There are addictive chemical called nicotine found in tobacco product that makes it hard to stop smoking cigarettes. Also, long-term contact to cigarette smoke caused nicotine dependence in rats and surged nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in the brain.

The original research has explored a study of Dr. Arthur Brody. The University of California researcher studied secondhand smoke and its effects on the human brain. The study has an imaging method to envisage when nicotine fills the brain nAChRs. The technique depends on a unique tracer molecule that attaches specifically to nAChRs. Positron emission tomography (PET) helps to detect the elements. Nicotine dislocates the tracer molecule at the receptor. The more nicotine attaches to nAChRs, the lesser the tracer signals.

The scientists observed 24 young adult contributors. The participant included 13 nonsmokers and 11 reasonably dependent cigarette smokers. Participants were offered the tracer molecule and they were to sit on the passenger’s seat of a vehicle for 1 hour. They repeated the activities twice but a week apart. In session 1, the participants were exposed to moderate levels of secondhand smoke. In the other session, they weren’t exposed to secondhand smoke. Subsequently, the participants underwent PET scans.

The result of the study showed that even restricted secondhand smoke exposure offers enough nicotine to the brain to modify its function. Sever or chronic exposure to second hand smoke has a significant surge in craving. The original study offers tangible evidence that support policies that ban smoking in public venues, especially around children and enclosed place as it surges vulnerability to nicotine craving.

The popular science article of choice is Air Pollution May Damage People’s Brain by Catherine Offord. News stories about medical research usually exclude basic study facts and cautions. The article investigates the effects of air pollution investigating whether they can mitigate visible damage. The World Health Organization recognizing urban green spaces as contributors to mental health. Urban green spaces help to enhance air quality. Research by ISGlogal proposes that green spaces within and around institutions could assist boost cognitive growth in children. Also, it enhances attention although there are no clear techniques behind the effects.

The article explains that there is a need for meaningful change is achieved by upping air quality for a certain institution or region. The author admits that long-term exposure to pollution results in harm. Therefore, the solution to the health damage needs includes a universal decrease in air pollution. He notes that air pollution has no physical boundary and mitigating pollution need the same mentality of solving climate change. The global target for quality air is possible through international agreements (Offord, 2019)

Cardiovascular and respiratory effects of air pollution have offered for researchers to accomplish that through global efforts. The conference about air pollution held by WHO’s in Geneva highlighted priorities ranging from better air-quality supervision to the condition for towns trying to lessen urban pollution. However, the observance of such objectives is voluntary and no country can guarantee its implementation. This year, the US government floated plans to lessen scrutiny of air pollution. Also, the Mexican government thwarted efforts to control pollution to lessen the emissions.

From the observation, reporters may not have the capacity to explore specialized medical research studies. The headline of the article is “Air Problem May Damage People’s Brain”. The use of the word “May” shows the possibility of brain damage as a result of air pollution. The danger of air pollution results in brain and lung damage. Also, there is a possibility that journalists present works in progress as breakthroughs. Thus, the information presented as news is vulnerable to distortion.

The article explores the theory that air pollution damages the brain. Since the 1900’s, the Mexican government had worked to enhance the quality of air. However, the last couple of years have been worse. There are thick smokes that descend over pollution leading to the closure of schools and offices to stop people from facing poisonous air. Mexico is not the only country in the world facing the menace. Most urban centers in the world link with air pollution due to congestions. Airborne contamination from noxious gases such as ozone, nitrogen oxides, soot, dust, and nanospheres of metals continue to infiltrate deep into the human body resulting in damage to the brain.

Xi Chen had a concern of poor air quality and its effect on the brain year ago. The economist started to think about the cost of pollution to humanity. The researchers focused on the evaluation of air pollution on respiratory health and mortality. Chen found out that social conduct and cognition have profound influences on an individual daily life. On the other hand, the biological factors involved in smoking relate to how the brain responds to nicotine. When a person smokes, a dose of nicotine reaches the brain within about ten seconds. At first, nicotine improves mood and concentration, decreases anger and stress, relaxes muscles and reduces appetite.

The researcher teamed up with other scholars in Beijing to analyzed adults exposed to air toxins in China. They took a sample of Chinese families for his study. The study entailed math and verbal test scores collected from 20,000 adults and more across China between 2010 and 2014. They projected the exposure to air pollution for each contributor’s town on the days of performing the tests using national records of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and particulate matter amounts. Also, they gathered data on other variables such as the educational background of participants and daily weather.

The study showed that a person exposed to higher levels of air pollution had a decline in the test scores over a particular period of study. The less educated people who were over the age of 45 years got affected most. The verbal test scores were hit harder compared to the math scores. The researcher found an existing correlation between cognitive functioning and air pollution. Thus, chronic exposure affected on the functioning of the brain. In Ontario, people living next to the road that has heavy traffic had cases of dementia.

Medical science articles and other mainstream news sources have different perceptions of diverse health care issues. The science article differs from the original literature as its media coverage of air pollution is inaccurate, sensationalized and diluted for its consumption of the people. The writer of the mainstream news knows of the voracious appetite for classic news about medical findings, care, and cure of air pollution-related diseases. It doesn’t offer facts and methodologies that describe the scientific process. The information is distorted to offer relief that the air pollution not that bad and there is a miracle cure in planting trees to purify the air.

Further, researchers have amassed evidence of cognitive and psychiatric dysfunction in pollution-exposed younger people, whose developing brains may be particularly vulnerable. In 2016, researchers found that Swedish children and adolescents were more likely to have been prescribed psychiatric medicine if they lived in areas with high nitrogen dioxide concentrations, and research published a few months ago linked lifetime exposure to air pollution with depression and anxiety in 12-year-olds living in Ohio.

According to the scientist magazine a study carried out a couple of years ago by researchers at ISGlobal compared different regions of the brain and found that some areas might be particularly susceptible. The team reported that schoolchildren exposed to high PAH levels showed particularly stunted growth in the caudate nucleus, a region deep within the brain that is linked to behavioral disorders such as ADHD. This region already generates relatively high levels of reactive oxygen species, explains study coauthor Marionmortems, now at INSERM in France.

In conclusion, the paper has compared a popular science article with a scientific primary literature manuscript to critically evaluate the way scientific findings are reported by the media. The article and the original scientific literature talks on air pollution and how it affects the brain. The popular science article doesn’t offer well-researched results on the subject. Also, its findings don’t provide a viable way of reducing air pollution. On the other hand, the original scientific primary offers indepth data on the topic. The result of the study showed that secondhand smoke exposure offers enough nicotine to the brain to modify its function. Thus, there should be a ban on public smoking to avoid secondhand smoke on the brain.






Works Cited

Offord, Catherine. “Air Problem May Damage People’s Brain”. (2019). The Scientist. Retrieved from

NIH Research Matters. “How Secondhand Smoke Affects the Brain”. National Institute of Health. 2011. Retrieved from

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