UBC study says exhaust fumes can change DNA

WATCH: A new study out of UBC has troubling information for truck drivers and anyone else who spends a lot of time behind the wheel of a diesel. Asa Rehman reports.

A new study by researchers at the University of British Columbia says exposure to diesel exhaust fumes could cause more damage to people than previously assumed.

“The DNA, the building blocks of our genetics and our body, have an extra chemical modification,” said Dr. Chris Carlsten, an associate professor in the Division of Respiratory Medicine. “What’s different and new is we’ve observed that change in a very controlled environment.”

READ MORE: The World Health Organization says Air pollution causes cancer

Volunteers were observed in a closed booth while breathing diluted and aged exhaust fumes, equivalent to what one would find in a Beijing Highway or Metro Vancouver port. In two hours, the chemical coating attached to many parts of a person’s DNA had changed.

“Over the lifetime of an individual…this could lead to accumulated changes that effectively lead to the diseases that we see due to air pollution.”

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Carlsten the results of the study could lead to exhaust fumes being linked to asthma, higher blood pressure and other conditions.

The results of the study were published in Particle and Fibre Toxicology this month.

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