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Traffic Jams Tied to Wide Range of Health Problems in Young and Old

New studies link high exhaust levels to everything from autism to Alzheimers.

by on Nov.10, 2011

Is traffic a major health hazard?

Anyone who has ever spent an hour creeping ever so slowly forward in a seemingly endless traffic jam knows what such tie-ups can do to your blood pressure – but a series of recent studies suggest that the increased exhaust that congestion creates can create serious health issues not only for motorists but those living nearby a highway.

Studies from places as far-flung as Boston and Beijing show that such heavily polluted air may be linked to brain inflammation similar to what is seen in elderly Alzheimer’s patients, while children born to mothers who lived close to major roads were twice as likely to suffer from autism.

“There is real cause for concern,” Annette Kirshner, a neurochemist at the National Institute of Environmental Health Science, told the Wall Street Journal, though she cautioned that with much of the new research yet to be confirmed – or fully understood – “we ought to proceed with caution.”

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But there is little doubt the new research is worrisome — and may lend support to those who are calling for a widespread switch from the internal combustion engine to alternative power systems such as battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs.

Among the newer studies, researchers have found: