Southern California traffic - by flickr user David R. BlumeEnlarge Photo
It's long been suspected, but a new European survey confirms it: Children living near areas of heavy traffic are more at risk of asthma.
Previously, it was thought that pollution from traffic might only be a trigger for the condition, but the Los Angeles Times reports on a European study that it can also be a cause.
The study, covered in the European Respiratory Journal, examined the health of children in ten cities.
14 percent of chronic asthma cases in children were attributed to near-road traffic pollution. It's the first time such a study has made a direct link between vehicular pollution and asthma cases, despite it being suspected for many years.
Dr. Laura Perez of the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute was the report's lead author.
"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," she said.
"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."
It's another string to the bow of electric vehicles, which produce zero local emissions--though it's also worth pointing out that in recent years, automakers have made huge strides in cleaning up their combustion engines.
Legislation in the U.S, Europe and elsewhere is stricter than ever with regards to air pollution, and the cars made today are a far cry from those that roamed the smog-choked streets of Los Angeles and other cities in the 1970s and 1980s.
But for families bringing up children, the best option for your kids' health is to avoid living in an area too heavily populated by traffic--it really can be bad for their health.