Not since WKRP have people been so focused on the air in Cincinnati, but new research from the University of Cincinnati is shedding light on the epidemic of inner-city asthma:
The researchers tracked the respiratory health of 622 infants living near three traffic conditions: highway traffic, “stop and go” traffic, and areas unexposed to major roads or bus routes. A “stop and go” traffic area was defined as being within 100 meters (about 100 yards) of a bus or state route with a posted speed limit of 50 mph or less.
Research showed that infants living within 100 meters of “stop and go” traffic wheezed twice as often as those living within 400 meters (about 400 yards) of interstates, and more than three times as often as unexposed children…
…”Traditional wisdom told us that highway traffic was to blame. We now know that’s not necessarily the case.”
Earlier research has shown that diesel exhaust particles (DEP), breathable particles able to absorb and transport proteins, aggravate rhinitis (hayfever) and asthma symptoms.
We were always under the impression that the asthma rates were highest in inner cities, not simply near car traffic. Thus, this finding seems like correlation, rather than causation (inner cities feature both stop-and-go traffic and asthma, though one doesn’t necessarily cause the other).
Still, we’re excited by the prospect that gadgets (in this case, diesel oxidation catalysts, like the one pictured above) could lead to a reduction in childhood wheezing. Dr. Johnny Fever could not be reached for comment.
More from the EPA‘s Diesel Retrofitting program…