Air pollution can cause genetic damage that is passed on by fathers to their children. Tests on mice show that those who breathed air near a smoke-belching steel mill had fewer babies and the ones they did have had more genetic mutations than normal. Almost all the extra mouse mutations were inherited from the fathers, suggesting that steel workers, who are mostly male, put their children at extra risk. "Our findings suggest that there is an urgent need to investigate the genetic consequences associated with exposure to chemical pollution through the inhalation of urban and industrial air," say researchers Christopher Somers and James Quinn.
"There has been work showing elevated cancer rates for steel mill workers," Quinn says. "For people living near steel mills it's a little bit tougher to show. Some might work in the steel mills, some might smoke, some might drink a lot."
Is the increasingly dirty air in the average city affecting our unborn children? While steel workers?like smokers?might accept the resulting damage to their own bodies, few would tolerate passing genetic defects on to their kids.
Sometimes we wonder if the world will ever clean up its act and change. Rupert Sheldrake says he knows of Seven Experiments That Could Change the World. Read about them and see if you agree.
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