As one breathes in the pure air, the lungs and the immune system refresh, invigorate, and oxygenate our blood. As we breathe in dirty particulates, toxins, and fumes, the organs of our body have too much to deal with and are overwhelmed. The dense gray matter does not merely go away inside. What happens to it? Conditions such as premature death and cancer may occur. The human body’s major organs all work together in a healthy constitution. Once the lungs are polluted, the overload of toxicity can profoundly affect every organ of the body. The impact of air pollution on bone loss, bone fracture, and osteoporosis is another concern to understand (and respond to with clean air initiatives).
Among other research, a new paper recently published in The Lancet, “Association of air particulate pollution with bone loss over time and bone fracture risk: analysis of data from two independent studies,” supports this latter point.
To better understand the normal cycle at play that results in healthy bones, the following information may be useful:
“‘Reducing emissions as a result of innovation in technologies or policy changes in emission standards of this modifiable risk factor might reduce the impact of air pollution on bone fracture and osteoporosis,’ wrote Andrea Baccarelli, MD, PhD, chair of the Environmental Health Sciences Department and director of the Laboratory of Precision Environmental Biosciences at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health in New York City, and colleagues, in Lancet Planetary Health.“
As an advocate for clean air, I am always aware of how complacent or fatigued people are about the subject. I believe cancer research is an excellent endeavor and undertaking, and modern medicine makes advances that may help. But why not start more with the given, the obvious, and raise money to assist in directly realistic goals to protect the public: support electric vehicles, especially for public transit, school buses, delivery vehicles, large fleets of all kinds.
Back to the bones of this post: I quite enjoyed Bruce Y. Lee’s explanation of the possible impact of pollutants on one’s bones. “Your bones are also like cities that include little construction workers called osteoblasts that build up your bone and little wrecking ball operators called osteoclasts that say ‘nah, let’s tear everything down so that we can start over again.’ “
Lee continues, “There are also osteocytes that seem to meet, greet, and chat with osteoblasts (‘hey, how you doing? Here’s what we want to do. We want a wall and a window over there facing the spleen…’). Vitamin D and parathyroid hormone, secreted by glands in your neck, help regulate the processes and the amount of calcium that goes in and out of your bones. Calcium is a major building material of bone.
“Here’s what happens when you spew things like particulate matter into the cloud. Not the digital storage cloud but the stuff you breathe. Pollutants in the air may interfere with your body’s complex processes. For example, while heavy metal music may just shake your bones, heavy metals in the air (e.g., lead, cadmium, and mercury) can actually get into your bones and stay there. Yes, once it’s in there it can be hard to get the lead out. A report from the World Health Organization (WHO) Europe described how these heavy metals can be quite toxic and affect vitamin D concentrations, suppress osteoblasts, and stimulate osteoclasts.”
Nourish your bones. Be aware of what you can personally do to help mitigate air pollution. Do it.
Images: Diesel exhaust fumes via Paul Marcus / Shutterstock.com; Bones via Wikimedia — this file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights.