Brake dust in urban areas currently makes up around 21% of traffic air particulates, but this is set to rise as regulations on diesel vehicles come into effect. With this information, a team led by Ian Mudway from King’s College London in the UK collected brake dust, produced under conditions representative of modern urban life, to investigate its effects on the immune function of human lungs. The team exposed lung cells to both diesel exhaust and brake dust particles to compare the toxicity of each. Their data showed that both pollution sources increased inflammation markers and impaired the ability of immune cells to ingest bacteria (called phagocytosis), which is the body’s primary mechanism for protecting the lungs against infection.
The study highlights how exposure to vehicle-derived pollution decreases the lungs ability to prevent infection and may be why such infections are more common in urban environments.
There’s good news and bad news in the article. From one of my favorite new tech sources.