Ozone may have damaging effects on a skin enzyme that helps break down environmental pollutants. Using cells grown in culture, researchers report these findings online in Journal of Investigative Dermatology.
Ozone is a main component of photochemical smog. When sun rays hit chemical compounds emitted into the atmosphere from cars, factories and other man-made sources, photochemical smog is created. Since smog is a volatile compound, it can break down into free radicals which in turn are damaging to organic molecules. This can lead to various short and long-term health effects.
Hasan Mukhtar and colleagues studied smog's toxic effects on normal human skin cells grown in the lab. They focused on one component of photochemical smog in particular - ozone. The scientists found that when normal skin cells were exposed to ozone there was an increased likelihood for cell damage. This cell damage increased the expression of the Cytochrome P450 enzymes - cellular proteins crucial in the metabolism of many chemicals - in skin cells, which strongly suggests that there are toxicological consequences of ozone exposure.
Several large cities, such as Los Angeles, Beijing, and Mexico City are known to have extended periods of smog that can build up to dangerous levels. Further research is required to confirm these findings in people.
Hasan Mukhtar (University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, USA)
Joyce-Rachel John (Senior Publishing Manager, Journal of Investigative Dermatology, New York, NY, USA)
Abstract available online.
(C) Journal of Investigative Dermatology press release.
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