A recent study in Belgium found black carbon particles in a placenta.
It is no secret that pollution is bad for the environment, but now it is expanding to the inside of a woman’s womb, which can be dangerous to a developing baby.
Samples of the placenta that was collected after women gave birth in Belgium revealed black carbon, or soot, embedded in the tissue that faces the baby. The soot correlated with the exposure that women faced near their homes, where emissions of black carbon were prevalent.
There also seemed to be a connection to the number of premature babies born from mothers who encounter air pollution regularly. This can be caused by the inflammatory response to air pollution inside a mother’s body.
The main culprits of the issue were gasoline, diesel, and coal that were being burned. To test the amount of pollution found in the placenta, researchers used a laser to excite the electrons within the tissue. The black carbon was extremely distinct and released white light. The pollution was even more evident in women who lived near areas with higher pollution rates.
Researchers hope to be able to test a person’s exposure to pollution from tissue samples or from blood work. Currently, scientists can only estimate the amount of pollution exposure based on where people live.
This harmful pollution that we may not even realize we are breathing in is doing even more harm than we originally thought. This study will continue to test more samples and help to develop a solution to this problem.