Car fumes 'increase anxiety and aggression'

Candy Bellinger

Aside from the dangers to your lungs, the fumes from fuel can increase the risks of suffering from anxiety and aggression, according to a new study. A team of researchers at Cairo University have discovered that rats exposed to fuel fumes were more likely to fight and displayed signs of anxiety. Scientists warn that even the simple act of filling your car up could be affecting both your physical and mental health.

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Arnal Kinaway, who led the study published in the journal BMC Physiology, said: "Heightened aggression may be yet another risk for the human population chronically exposed to urban air polluted by automobile smoke. Millions of people every day are exposed to gasoline fumes while refuelling their cars."

The unfortunate rats were exposed to fumes either from leaded or unleaded petrol, or good clean air. Those forced to inhale the chemicals were found to be much more likely to scratch and attack each other than those that breathed natural air. Though there was little difference between the effects of leaded and unleaded fuel, the unleaded fumes resulted in slightly more aggressive behaviour. In analysis of the animal's brains, it was revealed that the fumes had caused damage to cells.

Whether fuel causes heightened aggression in humans is unclear, but there is no doubting that traffic fumes are affecting our health. Previous studies have linked them to an increased risk of miscarriage, of developing dementia and of suffering from allergies.

Let us know what you think. Are you concerned about the dangers of traffic fumes and is it time we started taking precautions?