Recent studies have found compelling evidences that point to air pollution as one of the contributing factors leading to autism. Although there is little scientific data to support these findings, other researches show that pregnant women living in major thoroughfares are twice more prone to give birth to autistic children because the polluted air they breathe can adversely affect the biochemical set up in their fetuses’ DNA. Thus, putting their children at high risk of acquiring physical and emotional problems when they grow up.
Besides, a baby’s exposure to polluted air during his first few months of life has been associated with delayed cognitive development. It was even discovered that children living in high traffic places have a greater likelihood of faring poorly in intelligence examinations and suffer more emotional conditions than those who breathe cleaner air.
Experts have particularly identified some car exhaust chemicals that are associated with defects on growing fetuses and mental functions of young children, such as:
Carbon monoxide (CO). This colorless, odorless, and toxic gas is produced from vehicle combustion and significantly stops the blood’s ability to deliver oxygen throughout the body parts, particularly the heart and the brain. If a person does not receive enough oxygen in his blood from the lungs, his brain is also deprived of it. Even if takes time for the carbon monoxide to reach critical levels in the fetus than it does to its mother, the unborn baby is still susceptible to poisoning since the gas can get into the placenta and penetrate its blood, and eventually reduces its supply of oxygen. There is even a greater chance of the fetus to develop either short- or long-term ailments if its mother lost consciousness due to her prolonged exposure to high levels of CO concentration.
Nitrogen dioxide or nitrous dioxide (NO2). This can be an asphyxiant, especially when it reaches high levels of concentration. At lower concentration, this reddish-brown gas can critically affect the central nervous system, the heart, hepatic, hematopoietic, and reproductive systems of humans.
Sulphur dioxide (SO2). Short-term exposure to this poisonous gas can cause wheezing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath; while longer exposure can cause respiratory ailment, changes in the lung’s defenses, and can exacerbate existing heart disease. High concentrations of this gas can also lead to breathing problems among children with asthma and adults.
Benzene. This hazardous component created from exhaust fumes can cause both short-term and severe effects on humans. Its short-term effects include: disorientation, drowsiness, rapid pulse, loss of consciousness, anemia, damage to the nervous system, suppression of the immune system, and death. While constant exposure to benzene leads to critical ailments, like: acute myeloid leukemia, other types of leukemia, secondary aplastic anemia, severe anemia, and damage to the reproductive system.
These are but few of the harmful chemicals emitted from car exhausts that can lead to many diseases and disorders, including autism. Can we afford to see more of them? If we conscientiously do something to cut on these harmful effects, we will surely be saving so many from poor health conditions – and that can even be our own!