Monday, March 3, 2008

More studies show more damage from freeways

Yet another study shows a direct link between asthma and exposure to heavy traffic. Meanwhile, a new analysis by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin shows that expanding North-South I-94 will add seven million tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere over 50 years.

More on the asthma findings from Boston.com:

Children who live close to traffic-clogged roads are more likely to have asthma than children who live farther from heavily traveled streets, according to a new state report that focuses on six Merrimack Valley communities.

Local officials said the study results could spur the Merrimack Valley communities and the state to do more to curtail asthma - a scourge affecting about 17.3 million Americans, including 5 million children nationwide, the report states. "I'll be more cognizant as we consider new development," Thomas Schiavone, Lawrence's economic development director, said last week. "We really need to do anything we can to alleviate childhood asthma."

The research, conducted from 1998 to 2001, had two parts. One compared the number of asthma cases among 34,000 children ages 5 to 14 against the distance of their homes from a road, at five intervals from 25 meters to 200 meters away, and the road's traffic volume, or average number of automobiles, trucks, and buses traveling on it daily.

At each distance, children with asthma were consistently found to live nearer to a greater volume of traffic than those without the disease. The study also found that the risk for asthma decreased the farther away a child lived from the road. Dracut did not figure in this part of the research.

"This finding stresses the importance of programs to reduce gaseous pollutants and particulates from vehicles," the report by the state Bureau of Environmental Health says.

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