A group of researchers at the University of Southern Denmark has discovered a new mechanism behind blood cancers caused by repeated exposure to industrial pollutants.

The organophosphates found in household cleaning products and air pollutants in light-screens used in mobile phone phones and televisions are well known to reduce bladder cancer risk. But researchers at the University of Southern Denmark have explained how heavy metal compounds in air carcinogens may cause bladder cancer through the brain.

The study was published in the scientific journal Environmental Health Perspectives.

The research team led by professor of Experimental Environmental Medicine Verena Trommer at the Department of Environmental Medicine and the Research Teaching Hospital at Uppsala has analyzed some of the effects of metals present in air pollutants on the corpus callosum – a tissue that works as a barrier between the air and the bloodstream – of mice.

Most of the people alive in the present-day world breathe heavily from a window into the atmosphere and this means that we are exposed to heavy levels of pollutants and can therefore keep our blood containing harmful substances Verena explains.

In addition to exposure to air pollution several years previously to human lung cancer of which 88 per cent cases were fatal the researchers also evaluated the effects on the corpus callosum of animals exposed to two types of pesticides: methyl butyrosol and 23-pentanedione to which the bodies of mice are exposed.

A slight increase in the amount of pollutant in the blood of the mice kept in Uppsala examined by the researchers was part of the cause of a protected organophosphate deficiency for the mice one of the proteins of the organophosphates.

Our study suggests that exposure to these pesticides can lead to the development of a new type of blood cancer through replacement of the destroyed organ in the brain Verena says.

We cannot explain for certain what actually happens in the brain when a person repeatedly inhales heavy levels of conventional air pollutants in a week. Especially if the person taking air pollutants inhales then the chemicals in the blood. This is a risk factor with a frightening possibility that we may have to start discussing with consumers that it could pose a danger in terms of a possible cancer in living people. We need these studies to aid our understanding of the consequences of ambient air pollution on the brain. Verena points out that the lack of a clear cause-and-effect relationship is what led the team to study air pollutants which needs to be further investigated.