Stay Away from Those Dominant Males

Or something like that. A new study indicates that we should avoid stress because it could make your reaction to air pollution worse. The study induced stress by forcing a rat into the home cage of a dominant male. That’s actually a pretty good experimental model for how insecurities and oppression can give us stress. In the rat test, stress by itself didn’t induce much effect on the lungs nor did exposire to air pollution, but the combined exposure had a major effect – difficulty breathing, heart rate abnormalities, lung inflammation. Stress can magnify one’s reaction to toxics in the air making an otherwise innocuous exposure adverse, and very possibly ruining your day.

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Or something like that. A new study indicates that we should avoid stress because it could make your reaction to air pollution worse. The study induced stress by forcing a rat into the home cage of a dominant male. That’s actually a pretty good experimental model for how insecurities and oppression can give us stress. In the rat test, stress by itself didn’t induce much effect on the lungs nor did exposire to air pollution, but the combined exposure had a major effect – difficulty breathing, heart rate abnormalities, lung inflammation. Stress can magnify one’s reaction to toxics in the air making an otherwise innocuous exposure adverse, and very possibly ruining your day.

Air pollution is beyond our direct control – it's societal, and on certain bad air days, it just hangs there waiting to invade your lungs. But what is within our control is how we react to it – it's important to reduce your stress level through things like running (hopefully when air quality is decent), yoga, having great friends, hobbies and a positive outlook. If you’ve got that pressure cooker of a job, maybe start looking elsewhere.  The rats have taught us what my teens have been trying to for years – just chill – I think it’s a great non-toxics tip for every day of the week.    

Blog written by Gary Ginsberg, PhD
Dr. Ginsberg is a public health toxicologist whose research focuses on the unique susceptibilities of children to environmental...