Preliminary data from a number of sources suggests a correlation between heavy traffic and cognitive and behavioral health, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal titled “The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams.”
While no causative links have been established, breathing elevated levels of vehicle exhaust has been variously correlated with autism and premature births from prenatal exposure; lower I.Q., depression, anxiety, and attention problems in children; and memory problems and increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in older people. In one experiment, mice who breathed air piped in from a nearby Los Angeles freeway displayed brain inflammation and alterations in brain chemistry in neurons related to learning and memory.
Scientists studying these links say more research is needed and caution that it can be difficult to isolate the effects of stress and other environmental influences from the effects of vehicle-related pollution.
Copyright 2012 by BuildingGreen, Inc.