Diesel exhaust from heavy lorries can affect the way our brain works. Researchers have finally discovered that tiny particles from diesels change the way our brains function, although it's not clear if they can impair our abilities.
The effects - as measured on special brain-monitoring equipment - occur within 30 minutes of exposure to the particles.
Until this study was carried out, scientists didn't know if the particles had an effect, although they knew that particles can reach the brain.
To find out, they wired up 10 volunteers, half of whom were exposed for one hour to fumes, and who were monitored during the trial and for an hour afterwards. They discovered a significant alteration in brain activity within 30 minutes, and which increased during the hour following exposure.
Although the pollutants may have a potential effect on the central nervous system, the researchers were unable to figure out if this was happening, or if they were affecting our abilities in any way.
(Source: Particle & Fibre Toxicology, 2008; 5: doi: 10.1186/1743-8977-5-4).