Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Health Impact of Emissions from Light Traffic

Heavy vehicle traffic is related to wheeze among schoolchildren: a population-based study in an area with low traffic flows ( 8 page pdf, Martin Andersson, Lars Modig, Linnea Hedman, Bertil Forsbergand Eva Rönmark, Environmental Health, Oct. 13, 2011,

The review today looks at research in northern Sweden and the health impact for children within 200 m of relatively low flows of traffic (100-250 vehicles per day). The results indicate a respiratory health risk, not only for those near low traffic but also a possibility of underestimated risks near high traffic flow.

Key Quotes:

“Asthma is a major public health issue, affecting 300 million people all ages world-wide”

“The present study is one of the very few that describe an association between traffic air pollution and symptoms of asthma in children in a cold climate setting with, in a global perspective, low traffic intensity and small socio-economic differences in the population”

“Exposure to high traffic flows was uncommon in the study area; only 15% of the children lived within 200 meters from a road with a traffic flow of 8000 vehicles per day”

“The unadjusted odds ratio for current wheeze when living closer than 200 m from a road with ≥500 heavy vehicles daily was 1.8.. This association became weaker but still significant, with decreasing frequency of heavy traffic flow”

“Children having high traffic flows within 200 meters from home, are most often exposed to higher levels of gases and particles, both refereeing to long- and short term exposures”

“By using three different cut-off levels within the 200 m radius we could show the importance of larger roads (250 vehicles per day) in comparison to using a lower cut-off (100 vehicles per day)”

“vehicle traffic emissions may pose a threat to public health also in large areas of the world where background pollution and traffic intensity are low and an even larger threat to respiratory health in highly trafficked communities where the risk may be underestimated”
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