Posted October 07, 2018 03:03:52 A study conducted by researchers at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, has found that people who are not familiar with how plants are affected by pollution may be more likely to become irritated by odors that come from the environment.
In the study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers monitored a group of 20 people, all of whom live in urban areas, to see how they would react to odors they had encountered from the outside.
They also asked the people how they felt after smelling a particular type of plant or animal.
The results were startling.
“There was a clear correlation between the type of odor that people were exposed to from the air and the amount of irritation they felt,” said Dr. Joseph Zolotarevic, one of the study’s authors.
The study, which was conducted with the help of the Cornell Environmental Research Institute, found that while the average amount of irritant that people felt was significantly lower for people who did not live in an urban environment, there was a higher irritant level for those who lived in an environment that is polluted.
In the lab, the researchers exposed the people to odorous substances and measured their reaction to each chemical.
“We found that when people were faced with a particular odor, they tended to have an increased irritant response, and they did this because they were smelling the odor as opposed to thinking about the odor and the chemicals that are involved in it,” Zoliotarevic said.
While the results are somewhat encouraging, it’s important to remember that these results were not representative of the population, he added.
When people are not exposed to an odor, their body’s immune system is able to neutralize the irritant.
Researchers say that they have yet to identify any specific chemicals that trigger an irritant in humans, but Zoloti said they do know that some types of chemicals may be responsible.
“The fact that they do a chemical analysis, it gives us a lot of information about what is in the environment,” he said.
“We know that plants are sensitive to chemicals that have been used in agriculture, for example, so they have evolved to have that chemical resistance.”
The Cornell study also suggests that a person’s environment may be less important in determining their irritant levels.
It is believed that if a person is exposed to a toxic chemical that is not in their environment, they may be susceptible to other chemicals.
People may not even know that the chemical in question is toxic.
Zoloti, a graduate student in the Department of Ecology, said that he is encouraged by the findings because it suggests that people are aware of how the environment is affecting their bodies, and can act on it to control the effects of pollution.
“It is encouraging to know that there is a connection between pollution and people’s irritant responses,” Zotarevi said.
“The more people know about the effects that they are having, the more likely they are to act on them.”
For more information about this and other studies, visit: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/10/06/16302714.full