Exhaust from cars and trucks exacerbates asthma in children and may cause new cases as well as other respiratory illnesses and heart problems resulting in deaths, an independent institute that focuses on vehicle-related air pollution has concluded.
A relationship was found between pollution from vehicles and impaired lung function and accelerated hardening of the arteries.
The report, to be issued on Wednesday by the nonprofit Health Effects Institute, analyzed 700 peer-reviewed studies conducted around the world on varying aspects of motor vehicle emissions and health. It found “evidence of a causal relationship,” but not proof of one, between pollution from vehicles and impaired lung function and accelerated hardening of the arteries.
It said there was “strong evidence” that exposure to traffic helped cause variations in heart rate and other heart ailments that result in deaths. But among the many studies that evaluated death from heart problems, some did not separate stress and noise from air pollution as a cause, it said.
The institute, based in Boston, is jointly financed by the Environmental Protection Agency and the auto industry to help assure its independence. Its reports are peer-reviewed but are not published in a scientific journal.
From a scientific standpoint, the next step would be to conduct well-designed follow-up studies that use multivariate approaches to test and isolate causal relationships between vehicle pollution and human illness.
From a common sense standpoint, we are once again reminded that climate change and clean energy solutions that slash vehicle emissions are also likely to help slash our health care and (thus) health insurance costs.