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Your Commute Is Giving Children Asthma


You might hate your commute, but it probably gives your children the biggest cause for complaint: A recent meta-study identified traffic pollution as a potential contributor to 14 percent of childhood asthma cases, “putting it on par with second hand smoke.” Discovery News reports:

The researchers reached their conclusions by applying data from existing epidemiological research, including a key study involving traffic in southern California, to the rates of children living close to similar traffic patterns in 10 European cities.

Of course, asthma likely isn’t the only condition affected by traffic pollution.

“Near-road traffic-related pollution has been associated with chronic bronchitis and with cardiovascular diseases,” [lead author Laura Perez] said…”A broad range of acute and chronic diseases have been associated with air pollution.”

This is the first study to establish a causal link between near-road traffic pollution and asthma. It is the final link in a causal chain that passes the common sense test: traffic pollutes the air, and air pollution is known to cause asthma, so traffic causes asthma.

This news is as troubling for global leaders as it is for concerned parents. Beijing routinely sees air pollution go off the charts, and a 2007 World Bank report found that pollution costs China 5.8 percent of its GDP every year in material damages, healthcare costs, and premature deaths. (It’s estimated that nearly 700,000 die every year there from air pollution alone).

Luckily, there’s a fix: telecommuting. Working from home or at a satellite office even one day a week can make a big difference. Not only will you be saving yourself and your company money, you’ll give yourself more flexibility and a better work-life balance. You’ll be decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, and according to this study you’ll even be more productive. And maybe your children won’t need an inhaler.

[Beijing traffic image courtesy of Hung Chung Chih/]

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