Asthma & Traffic Congestion
While asthma is a health threat for people of all ages, children are particularly affected. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.4% of all children in the world are asthmatic. While the cause of asthma is still mostly a mystery, recent studies have pointed the finger at our environment and its pollutants.
According to the National Institutes of Health, researchers in Atlanta, Ga. last month uncovered data linking traffic pollution to asthma attacks requiring medical aid. The effects of these pollutants were most severe during warm weather.
Compiling information from over 90,000 cases of asthma attacks in local hospitals, researchers then compared the findings to daily recordings of pollutant levels in the area.
Before the study, the researches expected to find that ozone pollution was trigger for asthma attacks -- this hypothesis was confirmed. More surprisingly, the study found that pollutants produced from combustion engines were also asthma triggers.
A similar study in 2005 found freeway traffic was more than just a trigger of asthma attacks, but also a potential cause of the condition, according to Science Daily. While examining levels of air pollution in various Southern California cities, researchers found children living closer to a freeway were more likely to be diagnosed with asthma.
Nitrogen dioxide, a product of combustion engines, was also linked to asthma diagnoses. Children with higher levels of NO2 surrounding their homes were more likely to develop asthma. However, researchers maintain NO2 is not yet proven to be completely at fault since it often travels with other pollutants. One such pollutant is particulate matter, a potentially harmful mixture of small particles and liquid droplets, according to the EPA.