Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Traffic-Related Air Pollution Impact on Brain Development

Chart showing the increase in autism diagnosis...
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Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE study (26 page pdf, Environ Health Perspect, Dec.16, 2010)

Also discussed here: CHARGE (Childhood Autism Risks from Genetics and the Environment)

The article reviewed today provides yet more evidence of the health impacts on those exposed to traffic and vehicle emisisons within 300 m of major roadways and highways – in this case, on fetal brain development, resulting in autism after birth. As over 10% of the population (USA) lives within 100 m of major roadways, this suggests either zoning regulations preventing such exposure or controls put on traffic volumes that would reduce the emissions.

Key Quotes:

“oxidative stress and inflammation may play a role in disease development. Traffic-related air pollution, a common exposure with established effects on these pathways, contains substances found to have adverse prenatal effects.”

“We examined associations of autism with traffic-related pollutant exposure using two broad proxies: distance to the nearest freeway and distance to the nearest major road.”

“We observed an increased risk of autism among the 10% of children living within 309m of a freeway around the time of birth”

“It has been estimated that 11% of the U.S. population lives within 100m of a four lane highway, so a causal link to autism or other neurodevelopmental disorders would have broad public health implications”

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