Study Finds Traffic Pollution Can Harden Your Arteries

A recent study published in the scientific journal PLoS ONE indicates that people living in polluted areas have a higher chance of contracting heart disease. Here's a news flash: Breathe smog, bad things happen! Ain't proof grand?

According to the study, Los Angeles residents who live close to freeways experience more than twice the normal rate of arterial wall thickening as normal Americans. The study was conducted over the course of three years and is the first to link vehicle exhaust to the progression of atherosclerosis in humans.


The details are sobering, not to mention more than a little depressing: Researchers from USC and UC Berkeley used ultrasound technology to measure arteries in 1483 people in the Los Angeles area. In order to qualify for the research, prospective test subjects had to live with 100 meters of a freeway. The average annual artery progression in the study was 5.5 micrometers, or just under the thickness of a human hair.

On a related note, in July, the EPA launched a study of traffic pollution near Detroit roadways to examine whether smog leads to severe asthma attacks in children. Anyone want to guess what they're going to find?

Maybe we're pessimists, but all of this strikes us as more than a little obvious. Carbon monoxide and the human body in close proximity? What did anyone expect? If you live near a freeway, did you really think all that gray-green air was doing your body good? (No, Timmy! Don't listen to what Daddy said yesterday — don't suck on that tailpipe! It'll KILL you! I mean, if you're in college and you're experimenting, I suppose it's not horrible, but...)

Photo Credit: Getty Images/AFP

[PLoS ONE via LA Times]

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