Senses Cultural: The World Brain Day 22 July 2018 is an occasion to have a closer look at what can potentially benefit or harm our brain health and to modify our life-environmental factors hoping to own even healthier brains. The WorldBrain Day’s theme this year rests on a key global issue “Clean Air and Brain Heath”. Senses Cultural is to celebrate the World Brain Day by organizing public awareness initiatives.
According to Prof Randi Hagerman, Medical Director of the MIND Institute, UC Davis and the chief advisor at Senses Cultural Foundation in Sacramento California, air pollution is a risk factor for neurodevelopmental disorders also not just cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.
“Currently the association between air pollution and autism is being studied in mouse models for autism at UC Davis and there may be more neurodevelopmental disorders besides autism that is associated with air pollution. “This is an excellent and topical theme for World Brain Day”, Dr. Hagerman remarked.
Ultrafine pollution particles may enter the bloodstream, find their way to the brain, and damage the blood-brain barrier, which can cause neuroinflammation.
“Certainly air pollution can worsen oxidative stress which can further deteriorate mitochondrial function that is vital to neuronal function and connectivity in the central nervous system”, said Prof. Hagerman.
Unclean air is a global burden today. Based on recent reports from UNICEF, over 15 million newborn babies worldwide live in areas where air pollution is critically above international limits, causing them to take in toxic air, potentially putting their brain development at risk.
As highlighted by Dr. Mohammad Nami, Head of the Department of Neuroscience at SUMS, Shiraz-Iran, and an advisory board member at Senses Cultural; the lung-brain axis regulates proper oxygen delivery to the brain which is needed for our optimal neurological and cognitive functions. “Based on recent research findings, toxins in the inhaled polluted air can affect brain development in young children and breathing in the areas critical particulate polluted air would harm brain tissue and undermine cognitive development – with often permanent implications and setbacks”, Dr. Nami stated.
“Some air pollutant particles are in fact ultrafine magnetite materials. They can even invade the nervous system through the olfactory nerve and the gut tissue, and, given their magnetic charge, they cause oxidative stress leading to neurodegenerative diseases. In addition, other pollution elements such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, can areas critical to fostering neural communications which are critical to children’s learning and development.”.
According to SC advisors Dr. Hagerman and Dr. Nami, there is a global need to take urgent steps to reduce the impact of air pollution on children’s growing brains in today’s industrial life which is literally packed with environmental hazards including air pollution. The least parents can do is to reduce children’s domestic exposure to hazardous fumes produced by tobacco products, cook stoves, and heating fires. We need to be investing in air cleaners, renewable sources of energy to replace fossil fuel combustion; public transport; increasing green spaces in urban areas; reducing the use of pesticides and providing better waste management options to prevent open burning of harmful chemicals. These are among priority environmental health policies particularly in areas where air pollution is a serious burden.
The World Brain Day is to celebrate our current state of brain health and neurocognitive fitness. In light of this occasion, we have to be determined to strive towards developing and enhancing resilient, stronger and meanwhile more flexible brains.