Recent studies carried out at the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health indicate that a very common air pollutant, naphthalene, poses serious threats, especially when it comes to children inhaling it.
Although most people probably only heard about naphthalene in the context of household mothball fumes, it seems that this very harmful substance is also found in automotive exhaust, paint fumes and tobacco smoke.
As the International Agency for Cancer Research reports, naphthalene is likely to cause cancer when inhaled in significant amounts, especially if those coming into contact with it are children, whose bodies are not yet equipped for dealing with such toxins.
Apparently, exposure to high doses of naphthalene leads to chromosomal aberrations, with chromosomal translocations occurring most often.
Official reports indicate that, out of a total of 113 children living in New York and tested for abnormalities, 30 presented with chromosomal aberrations, 11 of which were cases of translocations.
According to Science Daily
, Manuela A. Orjuela, one of the leading researchers currently working on this study, argues that “translocations can persist for years after exposure. Some accumulated damage will be repaired, but not everyone's repair capacity is the same.
“Previous studies have suggested that chromosomal breaks can double an adult's lifetime risk for cancer, though implications for children are unknown,” the researcher goes on to say.
In order to come up with more conclusive results, scientists intend to keep monitoring these children until they reach the fourth grade, in the hope that until then things will begin to clear up a bit more.
Thus, studies confirm what parents always knew: that children are much more vulnerable to dangerous substances than grown-ups are, the only question now left unanswered being exactly when adults are going to take responsibility and start taking better care of their offsprings.
Truth be told, children don't smoke and they most certainly don't drive, so adults are the only ones to blame for their being exposed to air pollutants such as naphthalene.