Exposure to airborne particles may cause heritable genetic changes in
mice, according to a new study. Although more research is needed before drawing
any links to humans, the results add to accumulating evidence that inhaling
air pollution may pose genetic risks (Science. 2004;304:1008-1010).
Researchers at McMaster University, in Hamilton, Ontario, and Lakeland
College, in Vermilion, Alberta, studied two groups of mice housed in separate
sheds near a major highway and two steel mills. One group lived inside a chamber
equipped with a high-efficiency particulate-air (HEPA) filtration system,
while the other group breathed ambient air. The researchers also housed third
and fourth groups of mice under identical housing conditions 30 km away from
the industrial site. A total of 21 male and 21 female mice were housed at
each field site.
Hampton T. Heritable Mutations Linked to Pollution. JAMA. 2004;291(22):2689. doi:10.1001/jama.291.22.2689