According to a new study, researchers have found considerable quantities of toxic nanoparticles inside the human brain, the kind that is found in polluted air. The discovery has caused some concerns because toxic nanoparticles have recently been linked to degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia.

Representational Image | Source: Reuters

The study, led by Barbara Maher and published in the journal 'Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences', found that people living in areas with high levels of particulate matter pollution in the air, have abundant amounts of toxic nanoparticles. The study, conducted among 37 residents of New Mexico and Manchester, revealed the presence of said toxic particles in their brain tissue.

Particulate matter makes its way to the brain when breathed in through the lungs, or even through the olfactory bulb in the nose.

Joe Kirschink, of Cal Tech told Newsweek:

"The recognition that nanoparticles of industrially-generated magnetite are able to make their way into the brain tissues is disturbing," says

The particles found are made up of magnetite, a kind of iron. Magnetite is usually produced during combustion from vehicular engines, industrial processes and residential gas burners. Magnetites give rise to free radicals, and because it is so bioreactive, it leads to oxidative cell damage in brain tissue.

Researchers are worried about Alzheimer's links, because similar Magnetite is found in high doses i n the brains of patients suffering from the degenerative disease. Magnetite occurs naturally in the brain, but in crystal-shaped, angular particulate form. These particles were discovered in 1992. But these are very unlike the quantities of magnetite recently discovered, since the latter are spherical particles, rounded like droplets of liquid. Scientists are arguing that this is because they were formed during combustive processes.

The discovery that such particles can enter the brain via external means opens up a whole new line of scientific investigation into such diseases, especially the impact of environment on them.

Feature Image Source: Reuters