Updated May 25, 2107
Exposure even to brief episodes of pollution at critical stages in the development of the human embryo can cause a person to experience an increased likelihood of multiple chronic diseases including those of the heart, lungs, immune system and brain and even obesity, diabetes and cancer. Exposure to intermittent air pollution is associated with sperm DNA damage and consequent increase in the rates of male infertility, miscarriages and other adverse reproductive outcomes.
Pregnant women exposed to more air pollution give birth to babies with significantly more chromosomal aberrations and epigenetic changes, including shorter telomeres, which can be passed on to multiple subsequent generations. Air pollution breathed by a pregnant mother causes epigenetic changes in the womb, which can be the mechanism for life long impaired health and an increase in vulnerability to multiple types of disease.
Children living near petrochemical industries and exposed to wood burning are subjected to high PAH levels, contributing to DNA damage. Industrial pollution and wood smoke is even more genotoxic than traffic pollution.