Monday, December 19, 2011

Proximity to Traffic, Autism and Impacts on the Brain

The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams - Scientists Increasingly Link Vehicle Exhaust With Brain-Cell Damage, Higher Rates of Autism
(Robert Lee Hotz , Wall Street Journal, Nov. 8, 2011)
Also discussed here: Autism Increase May Be Blamed On Increased Traffic Fumes (The Autism Newswire)

And here: Increased Rates of Neurocognitive Issues Linked to High Traffic Areas (Carolyn Drake, HCP Live, Nov. 30, 2011)

And here: Rush-Hour Read: The Link Between Traffic Congestion and Health (Daniel Lippman, The Infrastructurist, Nov. 9, 2011)

Today, we return to a review of studies on the health impacts on the brain for those who breathe air near traffic. The studies indicate that the while the vehicle emissions affect everyone for periods as short as 30 minutes, impacts near traffic include the intelligence and emotional stability of children and the brain activity of seniors. There is evidence also that congestion pricing’s role in improving air quality has beneficial health impacts.

Key Quotes
“New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain

“Traffic fumes from some major L.A. freeways reached up to 1.5 miles downwind—10 times farther than previously believed”

"There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain,"

“an individual breathing street-level fumes for just 30 minutes will experience more intense electrical activity in brain regions accountable for behavior, personality, and decision-making—a change that is normally an indication of stress, they stated”

“an elderly individual breathing normal city air with high levels of traffic exhaust for 90 days could suffer alterations to how his/her genes turn on or off”

“the intelligence and emotional stability of children residing in areas affected by high levels of emissions…such children scored worse on IQ tests and were more prone to depression, anxiety, and attention issues than children who lived in areas with cleaner air"

“children born to mothers who resided within 1,000 feet of a major road or freeway in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or Sacramento were twice as likely to be autistic”

“areas around highway toll plazas [in New Jersey, USA] dropped 10.8% after the introduction of E-ZPass, which eased traffic congestion and reduced exhaust fumes, according to reports published in scientific journals this year and in 2009.”
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