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New Study Links Childhood Asthma to Traffic Pollution

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Mar 22, 2013 12:04 PM EDT
Berlin
Vehicles move slowly along a highway in a traffic jam during snowfall in Berlin March 19, 2013. (Photo : Reuters)

A recent study published in the European Respiratory Journal examines the link between childhood asthma and nearby traffic pollution.

In all, the researchers determined that traffic-related pollution accounts for 14 percent all childhood asthma in the 10 cities where the study was conducted. This is comparable, states a press release issued by the researchers, to the rate of asthma cases in children exposed to secondhand smoke.

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Up until this point, the press release explains, traffic pollution was thought to only exacerbate pre-existing conditions, rather than actually serving as a source for the disease.

But it doesn't stop with either kids or asthma: the same correlation stood for coronary heart diseases in older adults.

In all, the researchers feel that, as they write in the study's abstract, the pollutants caused by heavy traffic "are responsible for a large and preventable share of disease," especially in urban settings.

Lead author, Dr. Laura Perez of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, believes that with these findings comes a new degree of responsibility for those overseeing city development.

"In light of all the existing epidemiological studies showing that road-traffic contributes to the onset of the disease in children, we must consider these results to improve policy making and urban planning," she states in the release.

This study comes just in time for the European Commission who has declared 2013 the "Year of Air" in order to focus the public eye on the need for improved air quality.

The press release further mentions that the relative health of each local population was taken into account in the study's findings.

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