Air pollution due to heavy traffic is believed to one of the key asthma causes of preventable asthma in children. Large amounts of outdoor, as well as indoor air pollution, stems from cars, trucks, planes, ships, and trains. In a recent study, traffic-related air pollution is shown to cause 9% of all asthma in children in Long Beach California. The study published in the American Journal of Public Health was a collaboration between the University of Basel in Switzerland, the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Spain, and the Southern California Children’s Environmental Health Center.
“Air pollution is a more important contributor to the burden of childhood asthma than is generally recognised, especially to more severe episodes requiring visits to clinics or emergency rooms,” writes Prof. Rob McConnell who is the Deputy Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Center at the University of Southern California.
Studies in the past have shown that air pollution exacerbates asthma symptoms (Edler, 2006; Delfino 2002). Prof. McConnell's research, however, evaluates if pervasive exposure to air pollution contributes to disease onset in children. Even though uncertainties regarding the exact causal relationship between air pollution associated with traffic and asthma remain, Prof. McConnell writes that the study’s “results demonstrate that the burden of asthma prevalence and exacerbation caused by traffic proximity can be substantial.”
Air pollution due to cars and planes can be substantial. The study, however, points out that “ship emissions alone contribute substantially to coastal and inland air pollution.” Furthermore, the cargo going through the region of many metropolitan areas is expected to double and triple in the next 15 years.