Road traffic pollution as serious as passive smoke

Road traffic pollution as serious as passive smoke

Road traffic pollution as serious as passive smoke

The traffic pollution is one of the main problems of China. China searches new ways to prevent it with electric cars. AFP photo

New research conducted in 10 European cities has estimated that 14 percent of chronic childhood asthma is due to exposure to traffic pollution near busy roads, according to Sciencedaily.

The results are comparable to the burden associated with passive smoking: the World Health Organization estimates that between 4 percent and 18 percent of asthma cases in children are linked to passive smoking.

The findings, published ahead of printing in the European Respiratory Journal, come as the European Commission has declared 2013 the “Year of Air,” which highlights the importance of clean air for all and focuses on actions to improve air quality across the EU.

Until now, traffic pollution was assumed to only trigger asthma symptoms and burden estimations did not account for chronic asthma caused by the specific range of toxicants that are found near heavily used roads along which many Europeans live.

The researchers used a method known as population-attributable fractions to assess the impact of near-road traffic pollution. This calculates the proportional reduction in disease or death that would occur if exposure to a risk factor were reduced to a lower level.

The new research used data from existing epidemiological studies, which found that children exposed to higher levels of near-road traffic-related pollution also had higher rates of asthma, even when taking into account a range of other relevant factors such as passive smoking or socioeconomic factors.