Commuting along polluted highways found to be twice as bad for human health as previously believed

A new study published in Atmospheric Environment revealed that exposure to ambient air pollution during rush hour is more detrimental to the health than previously thought. Currently, most traffic pollution sensors are placed on the ground alongside the road and take continuous samples for for every 24-hour period. However, such sensors fail to capture the rapid changes in exhaust compositions that the drivers are exposed to inside their vehicles. Aside from this, current sensors fail to take into account certain factors caused by traffic congestion and environmental conditions.

In order to determine the compounds that drivers get regularly exposed to, a team of researchers from the Duke University, Emory University, and the Georgia Institute of Technology strapped a specially designed sampling device into the passenger seats of cars. The devices took air samples during morning rush hour commutes in downtown Atlanta. (Related: California’s cities are being choked to death by POLLUTION, so liberals of course blame global warming instead of themselves.)

The research team found that the special sensors detected twice as much particulate matter as regular road sensors. The experts also noted that pollution during rush hour contained twice as much chemicals that trigger oxidative stress. This puts commuters at an increased risk of developing respiratory and heart disease, cancer, and some types of neurodegenerative diseases.

“We found that people are likely getting a double whammy of exposure in terms of health during rush-hour commutes. If these chemicals are as bad for people as many researchers believe, then commuters should seriously be rethinking their driving habits…There’s still a lot of debate about what types of pollution are cause for the biggest concern and what makes them so dangerous. But the bottom line is that driving during rush hour is even worse than we thought,” Michael Bergin, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke, said in a university release.

“My two cents is that this is really an urban planning failure. In the case of Atlanta, the poor air quality on the highways is due to the fact that six million people live in the metro area, and most of them have little choice but to get into an automobile to go to work or school or the store or wherever. Auto-centric transportation plans do not scale well to cities of this size, and this is one more example of how traffic negatively affects your health,” researcher Roby Greenwald told ScienceDaily.com. 

Study demonstrates link between air pollution, chronic disease

The recent findings were reflective of previous studies demonstrating the adverse effects of air pollution. In fact, a study carried out by a team of health experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School revealed that women living next to major roads had higher air pollution exposure and a higher likelihood of suffering sudden cardiac death.

As part of research, the scientists pooled data from the Nurses’ Health Study and examined 107,130 women. The research team found that even accounting for other risk factors — such as age, diet, exercise, race and smoking habits — women who lived within 50 meters of a major road were nearly 40 more likely to experience sudden cardiac death compared with women who lived at least 500 meters away from a major road.

The researchers also noted that each 100 meters increase in proximity to a major road was associated with a six percent increased risk of sudden cardiac death. This risk was akin to other risk factors such as obesity and smoking, researchers said. In addition, the health experts found that living near a major road was tied to a 24 percent higher odds of suffering from a fatal coronary heart disease.

Sources include: 

Pratt.Duke.edu

ScienceDaily.com