Researchers in Europe have confirmed scientifically what parents in traffic-congested Southern California have known anecdotally for years: Poor air quality associated with busy roads can cause asthma in children.
The study, which examined children’s health in 10 cities, concluded that 14% of chronic childhood asthma cases could be attributed to near-road traffic pollution. It is the first time that medical researchers have made such a direct link — previous studies stopped at saying that traffic pollution is known to trigger asthma, not cause it.
The findings are published online in the European Respiratory Journal. The European Commission has declared 2013 the ‘Year of Air.’
“This is the first time we have estimated the percentage of cases that might not have occurred if Europeans had not been exposed to road traffic pollution,” said the report’s lead author, Dr. Laura Perez of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute. “In light of all the existing epidemiological studies showing that road-traffic contributes to the onset of the disease in children, we must consider these results to improve policy making and urban planning.”