Children Living Close to Freeways Have Higher Rates of Asthma, Study Finds
Children in the state who live close to a freeway or major road are more likely to have asthma, according to a study by researchers from the University of Southern California, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The study was presented Monday at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in San Diego and is part of the California Children's Health Study, which last year found that air pollution slows children's lung development.
For the study, Rob McConnell, an associate professor of preventive medicine at USC's Keck School of Medicine, and colleagues interviewed the parents of children living in communities near major freeways throughout the state.
Researchers found that the number of children who had asthma attacks increased as the distance between their homes and freeways decreased. Children who lived within 82 yards of a freeway had the highest rates of asthma, while those who lived 83 to 166 yards away had the second-highest rates of asthma. The study also found that children had a higher risk of developing asthma the longer they lived in such homes.
McConnell said, "We think that the exposure to these ... pollutants from fresh exhaust (is) a likely reason for increased rates of asthma in this population." He noted that about 15% of the state's population lives within 80 yards of a major road and one-third live within 160 yards.
McConnell said that the results of the study require additional analysis to determine whether children who live close to major roads have more frequent asthma episodes, whether exposure to trucks or diesel exhaust worsens their symptoms and whether a particular pollutant is primarily responsible for their asthma (Clark, San Diego Union-Tribune, 5/24).