Scientists have shown how diesel fumes trigger respiratory reflexes which could potentially worsen underlying conditions, such as asthma. The study, led by researchers at Imperial College London, is the first to demonstrate a mechanism by which diesel exhaust particles, a major component of air pollution in European cities, directly affect the lungs to initiate symptoms such as a tightening of the airways and cough.

The most recent published study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, an international team has also shown that by-products from burning diesel fuel – called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) – directly stimulate nerves in the lungs, causing a reflex response in the airways.


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