In 2010 the Roger Torné Foundation conducted an interview with Josep Carreras for the Magazine Cuadernos del Aire. In this, the singer transmitted: "a tip regarding breathing: it is important to breathe in through the nose to avoid impurities, our nose works as an air filter and we must take advantage of it", and added: "it is very important to breathe pure air. Environmental pollution is a serious problem on our planet, with which I am very aware. "
But this interest that Josep Carreras showed in 2010 towards pollution is shared by scientists from all over the world today. They continue to worry about knowing this great unknown that pollutes our air and enters our body through the respiratory system, until it reaches the brain, as shown by a recent study carried out by prestigious Spanish scientists in the field of health and the environment.
The study, published in January 2016 in Neuroimage, and echoed by SINC, affirms that the brain maturation process is closely linked to the air we breathe, slowing it down and producing changes in the brain associated with its functionality. For this reason, as the article states, children are the most vulnerable to environmental effects, since they are in the middle of their development phase.
To assess the scope of these possible effects of urban pollution on brain maturation, general indicators of vehicle emissions were taken into account, such as elemental carbon and nitrogen dioxide (measured in the school environment), and a full image evaluation.
MRI scans were performed on a group of 263 children between 8 and 12 years old, to quantify regional brain volumes, tissue composition, myelination, cortical thickness, neuronal tract architecture, membrane metabolites, functional connectivity in the main neural networks and the dynamics of activation / deactivation during sensory activity.
The results showed brain changes of a functional nature, with no obvious effects on anatomy, brain structure, or membrane metabolites. Specifically, a higher pollutant content was associated with functional integration and segregation in brain networks involved in internal mental processes and stimulus-induced mental operations. Age and results showed an effect opposite to that of contamination. That is, the greater the exposure to pollution, the slower brain maturation was.
The conclusion reached by the study was that air pollution in cities appears to have an adverse effect on brain maturation at a critical age, with specific changes in its functional appearance.
In light of the results, showing that pollution causes damage to children's brains, affecting their cognitive and, therefore, educational development, we cannot rule out that these consequences probably have systemic effects on their personal and social evolution. As Josep Carreras stated in the interview with the Roger Torné Foundation, “children are our future and it is our responsibility that they grow up in the healthiest way possible. It is important that, when one day we take stock of our lives, we can feel satisfied with what we have contributed to our planet ”.