Monday, December 17, 2007

Another study linking ill health and heavy traffic

From News-Medical Net:

Exposure to traffic pollution may increase respiratory problems and reduce lung volumes in children with asthma, according to researchers who studied the effects of road and traffic density on children's lung function and respiratory symptoms in the border town of Ciudad Juarez in Mexico.

"Our results show that close proximity to vehicular traffic-related emissions, either at home or at school, can lead to chronic effects in the respiratory health of children with asthma," said Fernando Holguin, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pulmonary medicine at Emory University School of Medicine, and lead author of the study, which appeared in the second issue for December of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, published by the American Thoracic Society.

Traffic-related pollutants are known to be associated with asthma severity, but to what extent they affect airway inflammation and lung volume in both asthmatic and nonasthmatic children was unknown. "Major cities along the northern and southern US borders often have high levels of vehicular traffic flows, especially at the border crossing points. Vehicular traffic emissions from the high density of border crossing traffic may be negatively affecting the health of populations who live in nearby areas," said Dr. Holguin.

To investigate how specific traffic-related pollutants affected children's lung function and respiratory symptoms, the researchers recruited 200 age- and sex-matched asthmatic and non-asthmatic schoolchildren from ages six to 12. Over the course of a year, they measured road and traffic density and traffic-associated pollutants near the children's homes and schools, and evaluated each child's lung function and respiratory symptoms consecutively for four months.

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