According to the research, children and teenagers exposed to high levels of pollution have a specific type of DNA damage called telomere shortening.


Preliminary research, led by University of California’s expert John R. Balmes, children and teenagers exposed to contamination in the air, showed a very specific type of damaged in their DNA produced by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), an organic compound found in petroleum, coal and deposits of tar and fuels

This DNA damage is called “telomere shortening” and is typically associated with aging cells. According to the study, children and teenagers exposed to PAH present shorter telomeres, and those with asthma, were exposed to higher levels of PAH.

As indicated in the investigation, there’s a proportional relation between the average levels of PAH and the length of telomeres, also between children’s age and telomeres. “Those with asthma had shorter telomeres than those non-asthmatic” research conclude.

The study includes 14 children and teenagers that live in the second most contaminated city of USA: Fresno, California, and was publish by de Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

 Because it is a preliminary study performed on a very small sample of individuals, further studies will be necessary to verify this association.