Traffic pollution impacts mental well-being at every stage of life

November 11th, 2011 by Richard Lord

In the 8 November 2011 issue of The Wall Street Journal, Robert Lee Hotz writes that scientists suspect that car exhaust may injure human brain cells.

Car exhaust emissions have already been “implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments,” he writes.

The research being conducted points to traffic fumes impacting mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability at every stage of life.

According to The Wall Street Journal article, Dutch scientists have showed that breathing traffic fumes for 30 minutes causes changes in regions of the brain responsible for “behaviour, personality and decision-making.”

Robert Lee Hotz writes that researchers in New York, Boston, Beijing and Krakow in Poland found that children growing up in areas with high traffic emissions did more poorly in intelligence tests, and suffered more depression, anxiety and attention problems than children growing up in less polluted environments.

A research team led by Dr. Heather Volk of the Department of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics, Keck School of Medicine, which is affiliated with the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, determined that children from mothers living within 1000 feet of a major road or motorway were twice as likely to be autistic. This finding was independent of the child’s gender, ethnicity, education level, as well as the mother’s age, and exposure to tobacco smoke and other factors.

A separate study found that traffic pollution accelerated mental deterioration in the elderly, and heightened the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Dr. Frederica Perera, Director of the Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health, found evidence that vehicle exhaust impacts a child’s emotional well-being and mental development.

The Columbia Center for Children’s Environmental Health placed pollution measuring machines inside study participants’ homes and found that nearly the same amount of black carbon was found inside homes as measured outside homes. The study determined that people were breathing vehicle pollution even when indoors.

Please go to The Wall Street Journal website to read Robert Lee Hotz complete article.


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