Children’s Lung Health Seriously Affected by Traffic Pollution


Over a decade of research has shown strong links between children’s lung health and traffic-related air pollution. Children who live near busy freeways, play sports in air with high ozone concentrations, or are within 1.5 miles of heavy emission zones may suffer such health problems.

The closer children are to the emissions source, the greater the threat.

Sample studies are shown below. More information about air pollution and health risks is here.

  • Childhood asthma can be directly caused by traffic pollution. University of Massachusetts researchers estimated that childhood asthma creates an economic burden of more than $18 million annually for the communities of Long Beach and Riverside in Southern California. “The fact that together these two communities account for only 2 percent of the population of California suggests that the statewide costs are truly substantial,” the researchers wrote, noting that the total cost nationwide is a significant economic burden that disproportionately falls on those living near high traffic corridors. – European Respiratory Journal, 2012
  • Children living near busy highways have significant impairments in the development of their lungs. In the largest and longest study of its kind, University of Southern California researchers found that  that such expsoure can lead to respiratory problems for the rest of their lives. The 13-year study found that the damage from living within 500 yards of a freeway is about the same as that from living in communities with the highest pollution levels. – Lancet, 2007
  • Air pollutants extend further than 1.5 miles downwind. Researchers from UCLA and the California Air Resources Board published a study that showed the distance is 10 times greater than daytime pollutant measures previously taken. The study also found that although traffic volumes are lower before sunrise, air pollution concentrations were higher than those during traffic congestion peaks throughout the day. This air pollution was found to be trapped near the surface, creating a zone of influence many times greater than during the daytime traffic peaks. – Atmospheric Environment, 2009
  • The risk of developing asthma, allergies, and eczema is nearly 50 percent higher for children living within 50 yards of a busy road compared to those living 1,000 yards away, – American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, 2008
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