So what's up with Fresno? Other than having a solid agricultural industry and an uncomfortable number of cows, you'd probably guess that not much is going on there. Guess again. You may not have known, but Fresno is the second most-polluted city in the US; and that's only because who can compete with a valley home to almost 4 million people surrounded by mountains that literally trap the smog in? Yea, Los Angeles will always be the dirtiest of them all (don't tell Las Vegas).
We all know pollution is bad, for the environment and for us, but what exactly is pollution doing to our bodies? It turns out, according to a recent study that came out in May of this year (Lee et. al, 2017) that exposure to the ubiquitous air pollutant produced by motor vehicles, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH), is shortening telomeres in children and adolescents. The authors selected 14 children and adolescents living in Fresno both with and without asthma based on their average annual PAH level and then measured their relative telomere lengths using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). An inverse linear relationship was found between PAH levels and telomere length as well as age and telomere length. In addition, subjects with asthma had shorter mean telomere length than those without.
So what's the take home? Pollution is shortening your telomeres. And if you live in Fresno, you may want to move.