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Monday, March 27, 2023

Smoke from forest fires affects DNA in infants: Stanford

Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press 

According to researchers at Stanford University, smoke from wildfires can permanently damage the DNA of children, while smoke from wildfires is much more damaging compared to controlled fires.

The author of the study and director of the Sean N. Parker Center for Allergy and Asthma Research, Kari Nadeausaid his team found enough evidence to raise awareness of the use of controlled fires to prevent them from getting out of control.

"Controlled fires are less intense. They are also more predictable, so people have time to get away. We have found changes in the DNA of people exposed to wildfires, but not in those exposed to controlled fires," he said.

After analyzing the two types of smoke and their effects on people, they found that exposure to smoke from wildfires was associated with significant decreases in T-cells, critical to the immune system.

In addition, the team of researchers found evidence of genetic alterations in children, as smoke from forest fires was associated with increased methylation of FOXP3 ?a protein involved in immune system responses, distorting it in its response to cancer.

Given this, it was hypothesized that higher levels of toxic pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide in wildfire smoke are responsible for DNA damage and children are particularly at risk, as their immune systems are still developing.

The research adds to debates about actions and funding to help fight global warming, especially in those states plagued by wildfires, such as California, Oregon and Washington.

For President Donald Trump, states should focus on adaptation strategies to climate change and not on forceful actions to help mitigate it, he said when questioned about whether he believes that human activities increase the problem during the first presidential debate leading up to the November 3 elections.

While a Stanford study indicates that 60 percent of respondents in California believe that the technique of controlled fires, which are less damaging and allow to avoid forest fires, should be performed.

Pamela Cruz
Pamela Cruz
Editor-in-Chief of Peninsula 360 Press. A communicologist by profession, but a journalist and writer by conviction, with more than 10 years of media experience. Specialized in medical and scientific journalism at Harvard and winner of the International Visitors Leadership Program scholarship from the U.S. government.


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