Over the past few years, more and more science dollars have been committed to studying the "epigenetic" impact of toxins in the human body. These are impacts that go well beyond just the person originally exposed to those toxins. We expect that harm. What's brand new is the fact that that exposure can keep harming the descendants of the original victim. His or her children could be impacted, or his or her grandchildren, or even great-grandchildren. Individuals who might be born long after the offending facility is out of business can nevertheless still be impacted by its poisons as the get passed along from generation to generation.
This happens not through direct DNA damage, but by damaging the code and behavior of the stuff surrounding the DNA and telling it what to do. This damage can cause a normal cell to go haywire. Changes can be subtle or dramatic. Maybe cancer, maybe a immune system disease, and maybe asthma.
Researchers at the UCLA Medical Center have published a study that concludes that mothers who smoke during pregnancy have a statistically higher risk of causing asthma in their great grandchildren.
"Even though there are multiple causes for childhood asthma, research linking this serious chronic condition to maternal nicotine exposure during pregnancy for up to three generations should give mothers-to-be even more reasons to reconsider smoking,’ said Dr Virender Rehan an LA BioMed lead researcher. "