Ultrafine pollution particles create air of menace

An air quality study has for the first time detected nano-sized particles of air pollution in children?s urine. With a diameter of just 100 nanometers – a thousandth of the width of a human hair – these ultrafine particles are the smallest particles found in air pollution and have been linked to heart disease and respiratory conditions in previous studies.

The research provides the first direct evidence that some of the particulate matter known as black carbon that we inhale in soot and fumes is making it across the lung barrier and into the body?s circulatory system.

The discovery, and the development of the first urine test for UFP, means that researchers can now tell how much internal exposure an individual has had to one of the most worrying pollutants, black-carbon nanoparticles.

It is difficult to measure how much exposure an individual has received, so most studies of its prevalence and effects are done by mapping pollution levels in an area onto rates of population ill health.

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