Study Finds Diesel Exhaust Causes Functional Effect in Human Brain

The first study to show a functional effect of diesel exhaust in the human brain has been published in Particle and Fibre Technology by Dutch, Swedish, and British researchers and posted today by the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. Bjorn Cruts of the Centre of Expertise in Life Sciences at Zuyd University in The Netherlands and colleagues exposed 10 male volunteers to diluted diesel exhaust (300 micrograms per cubic meter of air) as a model for ambient PM exposure and to filtered air for one hour using a double blind randomized crossover design. Brain activity was monitored during exposure and for one hour afterward using quantitative electroencephalography at eight different sites on the scalp.

They used the frequency spectrum of the EEG signals to calculate the median power frequency (MPF) and found a significant increase in MPF in response to diesel exhaust in the frontal cortex within 30 minutes into exposure. The increase continued to rise during the one-hour post-exposure interval. No difference in heart rate was observed.

The authors recommend further to determine whether the effect is mediated by the nanoparticles in diesel exhaust and to define the precise pathways involved.

The study is available at www.particleandfibretoxicology.com/content/pdf/1743-8977-5-4.pdf.

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