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New detailed review finds strong links between adverse health effects and traffic pollution

2022

A comprehensive new scientific review released today by the Health Effects Institute (HEI) finds growing confidence in the links between several adverse health effects and traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). The review, the largest of its type to date, was conducted by a panel of thirteen renowned experts who evaluated 353 scientific reports published between 1980 and 2019 on traffic pollution and related health effects.

Following HEI’s widely cited 2010 TRAP report, HEI appointed a new panel in 2018 to evaluate evidence of long-term exposure to TRAP and selected adverse health outcomes. The panel found a high level of confidence that strong connections exist between TRAP and early death due to cardiovascular diseases. A strong link was also found between TRAP and lung cancer mortality, asthma onset in children and adults, and acute lower respiratory infections in children. Of the studies reviewed, 118 examined respiratory effects in children and included populations residing in a wide range of countries, with a majority based in Europe and North America.

Emissions from traffic affect air quality at the local, neighborhood, urban, and regional scale. The panel found that epidemiological studies that focused on exposures at the local level (less than one kilometer) and neighborhood level (one to five kilometers) offered the greatest potential in determining TRAP impacts.

The panel noted significant improvements in vehicle fuels and technologies in recent decades in most high-income countries, with communities benefiting from improved air quality and reduced exposure, although many challenges remain.

 

Read the Review here.