According to a recent researcher's report in the online journal Nature Communications, soot breathed in by pregnant women can make is way far past their lungs, all the way into the womb surrounding their developing baby.
Researchers tested samples of placentas collected from women who had recently given birth. These samples revealed soot, or black carbon, embedded within the tissue facing the baby which correlated to the mother's exposure to air pollution emissions near their home.
Developmental problems have been tied to the inflammatory response to air pollution in a mother’s body, including inflammation within the uterus. This new study, suggests the air pollution itself is getting into developing babies.
"Researchers also looked at whether the amount of black carbon detected in 20 placental samples matched a woman’s air pollution exposure, estimated based on where she lived in the northeast of Belgium. More soot was found in the samples from 10 women who experienced higher pollution levels in their residential areas than the 10 who had lower levels. An average of 9,500 particles per cubic millimeter of placental tissue was found in the women exposed to less pollution and 20,900 particles per cubic millimeter in the more exposed group."
The study suggests it might be possible to test a person’s exposure to pollution from either blood or tissue rather than the current method which estimates pollution exposure based on where the subject lives, ignoring other factors such as pollution encountered at work.