Living Near Busy Roads Increases Asthma Risk
Children in Southern California who live within 250 feet of major roads were 50% more likely to have had asthma symptoms in the past year, according to a study published in Environmental Health Perspectives, the New York Times reports.
The study involved more than 5,000 children ages five to seven in 13 communities.
The study found that the closer children lived to a busy roadway, the more likely they -- especially girls -- were to have experienced asthma symptoms, either in the past or currently. The greatest risk was found in children who lived near busy roads since before age two, which suggests that they could have been exposed to pollutants as an infant or prenatally.
Asthma risk decreased to the average rate for children living 600 feet or more from a busy roadway.
According to researchers, the study suggested that major highways should not be the only source of pollution concern and that communities should consider the placement of playgrounds and schools.
Study leader Rob McConnell of the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California said it is unclear what residents living near busy roads can do to reduce their risk of developing asthma (Nagourney, New York Times, 5/9).
An abstract of the study is available online.