Last gasp hotel

May, 2017

The great smog of 1952 caused Parliament to pass the landmark ‘Clean Air Act’ of 1956, to improve air quality. It was finally repealed in 1993 to consolidate its legislation with other related enactments, especially the Clean Air Act 1968. The current government failed to delay publishing it’s clean air strategy until after the election, a strategy that is clearly needed as was the act in 1956.

Air pollution today is estimated to be responsible for 40,000 premature deaths per year. Mr Justice Garnham said government figures showed that nitrogen dioxide pollution – primarily from diesel traffic – was linked to the premature deaths of 23,500 of those 40,000 people a year in the UK. He said it was essential to publish draft plans to cut air pollution immediately to safeguard public health.

Many studies in recent years have demonstrated that air pollution not only increases the risk of respiratory disease but also of cardiovascular disease, with one American study demonstrating that high density cholesterol particles are reduced with exposure to modest amounts of pollution. The same team also demonstrated that calcification of coronary blood vessels.

Much of this cardiovascular disease has been attributed to nanoparticles. The mechanism by how inhaled nanoparticles trigger CV disease is emerging but a fundamental question remains unanswered; Do inhaled nanoparticles translocate from the lung in man and directly contribute to the pathogenesis of cardiovascular disease?

Using Gold nanoparticles a team have partially answered the question, demonstrating that following inhalation, gold particles could be detected in surgical specimens of carotid artery disease from patients at risk of stroke. This deposition at sites of vascular inflammation provides a direct mechanism that can explain the link between environmental nanoparticles and cardiovascular disease.

The production of engineered nanomaterials with simularities to environmental nanoparticle is growing exponentially. Mr Justice Garnham was right to order the government to publish its’ clean air strategy but future interventions will need to combat more than the traditional enemies of clean air, such as diesel engines.


  1. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b08551

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About the Author

  • Dilruwan Herath

    Dilruwan Herath is a British infectious disease physician and pharmaceutical medical executive with over 25 years of experience. As a doctor, he specialized in infectious diseases and immunology, developing a resolute focus on public health impact. Throughout his career, Dr. Herath has held several senior medical leadership roles in large global pharmaceutical companies, leading transformative clinical changes and ensuring access to innovative medicines. Currently, he serves as an expert member for the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicine on it Infectious Disease Commitee and continues advising life sciences companies. When not practicing medicine, Dr. Herath enjoys painting landscapes, motorsports, computer programming, and spending time with his young family. He maintains an avid interest in science and technology. He is a founder of DarkDrug

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