Air pollutants may kill hair follicles, make men go bald
Air pollution could cause hair loss, according to a study that tested the effect of dust and fuel particles on human scalp cells. Researchers found that exposure to common pollutants reduced the levels of four proteins responsible for hair growth and hair retention. It also showed that the effect increased when the amount of airborne particles increased — suggesting that those living in cities or close to industrial works are at greater risk of going bald.
The study, which was funded by a South Korean cosmetics company, is said to be the first to find a relationship between airborne pollutants and hair loss. However, lead researcher Hyuk Chul Kwok, who revealed the results at the 28th European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology Congress in Madrid, said further research was required to confirm the effect outside the laboratory. “Our research looked at the science behind what happens when the cells found at the base of hair follicles are exposed to common air pollutants,” he said.
“When the cells on the human scalp were exposed to common air pollutants created from burning fossil fuels, the proteins in the cells that are responsible for hair growth and hair retention were significantly reduced,” said Hyuk Chul Kwon.
“The more pollutants that the cells were exposed to, the bigger this impact seemed to be... Therefore, the results suggest that particulate matter may cause hair loss.” The study did not consider any potential differences in hair loss between genders or ages.
Air pollution campaigner Jenny Bates, from Friends of the Earth, said: “This is the latest in a long sequence of scientific evidence showing the disturbing impact of air pollution on our bodies and health. “People need to be helped to switch to less polluting forms of transport. We need cleaner vehicles on our roads, and fewer of them, and greater investment in better public transport and safer cycling and walking. “This will not only create cleaner and healthier towns and cities — it will slash climate-wrecking emissions too,” she said.