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Living Near Heavy Traffic Increases Asthma Severity

August 1, 2006

Policy Brief

Authors: Ying-Ying Meng, DrPH, Rudolph P. Rull, Michelle Wilhelm, PhD, Beate Ritz, MD, PhD, Paul English, Hongjian Yu, PhD, Marlena Kuruvilla, Sheila Nathan

Children and adults who suffer from asthma and live near heavy vehicular traffic are nearly three times more likely to visit the emergency room or be hospitalized for their condition than those who live near low traffic areas, according to this policy brief from the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. For adults with asthma, medium and high traffic exposure increases the likelihood of daily or weekly asthma symptoms by 40 percent and 80 percent, respectively, compared with low traffic exposure. The policy brief also notes that living in areas of heavy traffic is a burden borne disproportionately by asthma sufferers who are ethnic/racial minorities or from low-income households. Researchers were able to link traffic-related air pollution to asthma severity after merging data from Los Angeles and San Diego County respondents to the 2001 California Health Interview Survey with traffic counts provided by the California Department of Transportation.

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