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Studies have identified an association between daily changes in concentration of outdoor air pollution and daily number of deaths and hospitalisations, particularly from cardiovascular disease and following relatively short time after exposure.

It has been suggested that traffic-derived particles, of which diesel exhaust particles are major contributor, are the most toxic component. Diesel exhaust particles have been associated with increased risk of cardiopulmonary diseases. We know that even inhaling diesel exhaust fumes once e.g whilst out walking, or jogging traffic, causes lung inflammation and changes in blood clotting.

We’ve known about the potential health hazard for a while now, a study in 2012 looked at repeated exposure effects and the protective effects of curcumin. Mice were exposed with repeated doses of DEP (15 µg/animal) every 2nd day for 6 days (a total of 4 exposures), and measured several heart and lung functions 48 h after the end of the treatments. The effect of curcumin (the yellow pigment isolated from turmeric) on DEP-induced cardiopulmonary toxicity was also assessed.

Diesel exhaust particle exposure increased white blood cell numbers, tumour necrosis factor α (TNF α) in lung fluid, and enhanced airway resistance. It also increase signals of stress and systolic blood pressure. When mice were given curcumin (45 mg/kg) 1 h before exposure, it significantly prevented the effects listed above mainly through use of its anti-inflammatory ability.

Studies such as this suggest we need more research on using curcumin and other supplements in populations exposed to air pollution. Curcumin is already a popular supplement, and it looks like it can add another string to its bow in regards to pollution.


Nemmar A, Subramaniyan D, Ali BH. Protective effect of curcumin on pulmonary and cardiovascular effects induced by repeated exposure to diesel exhaust particles in mice. PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e39554. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039554. Epub 2012 Jun 22.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash