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Live near a freeway? Heart disease risk may be higher

Los Angeles residents living near freeways experience a hardening of the arteries that leads to heart disease and strokes at twice the rate of those who live farther away, a study has found. The paper is the first to link automobile and truck exhaust to the progression of atherosclerosis — or the thickening of artery walls — in humans. The study was conducted by researchers from USC and UC Berkeley, joined by colleagues in Spain and Switzerland, and was published this week in the journal PloS ONE.

Researchers used ultrasound to measure the wall thickness of the carotid artery in 1,483 people who lived within 100 meters, or 328 feet, of Los Angeles freeways. Taking measurements every six months for three years, they correlated their findings with levels of outdoor particulates -- the toxic dust that spews from tailpipes -- at the residents’ homes. They found that artery wall thickness accelerated annually by 5.5 micrometers — one-twentieth the thickness of a human hair — or more than twice the average progression in study participants.

The findings show, according to co-author Howard N. Hodis, director of the Atherosclerosis Research Unit
at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, “that environmental factors may play a larger role in the risk for cardiovascular disease than previously suspected.”

UC Berkeley co-author Michael Jerrett noted, “For the first time, we have shown that air pollution contributes to the early formation of heart disease, known as atherosclerosis, which is connected to nearly half the deaths in Western societies.... By controlling air pollution from traffic, we may see much larger benefits to public health than we previously thought.”

The study comes at a time of growing alarm over the effects of freeway pollution in nearby schools and homes. In the four-county Los Angeles basin, 1.5 million people live within 300 meters, or 984 feet, of major freeways.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, is in a federal court battle to overturn the caps on motor vehicle emissions set by Southern California air quality officials, saying that they fail to account for higher pollution near freeways. And Los Angeles and Long Beach residents are fighting the expansion of the truck-clogged 710 Freeway, saying it will lead to higher rates of asthma and heart disease in densely populated areas.

In July, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency launched a major study of air pollution near Detroit roadways to examine whether it leads to severe asthma attacks in children.

More than a third of Californians report that they or a family member have asthma or respiratory problems, according to a recent survey. The Obama administration is proposing tighter standards for two vehicle-related pollutants: nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and ground-level ozone, the chief component of smog.

--Margot Roosevelt

Photo: Cars hit a bottleneck as they emerge from the 710 Freeway in Alhambra. Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times

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Is THIS news? Did you think for a moment, living along freeways where spewing diesels from the Port, asbestos brake lining dust, MBTE, oils, transmission fluids and Heaven alone knows what else, was the equivalent of sweet grasses, orchids, bougainvillea, ferns and Sequoias? Having visited Disneyland in the mid-sixties, up from that Marine paradise called Pendleton, our eyes would water like we were suffering a tear gas attack when we got within 25 miles. Today, with 3 times the population, and 5 times the vehicles, at least you can see blue sky....but sadly, it's just a giant placebo; living in many parts of CA, including the once near pristine Central Valley, is NOW TOXIC. Want jobs? Want to KEEP the incumbents in POWER? Enjoy an early death.

Ultra-fine particulate is deadly, regarding the source. Freeways are one of many sources affecting the LA Basin. Why do cities place major residential developments so close to these killing zones? I'm specifically thinking of the Platinum Triangle in Orange County which is close to the I-5, the 22 and the 57, and gets pyrotechnic debris from Disneyland and Angles Stadium, and if the super train is ever built, those apartments and condos will get influx from the transit systems too. Freeways should have industrial areas near by, with requirements for air cleaning in all building plans.

The best way out of this mess is more public transit and fewer freeways, as quickly as we can manage it. It's a jobs-rich solution where everybody wins.

Another cause could be rubber. Ever stop and think, when your tires wear down, wear does all the rubber go?.ever notice houses and structures near a freeway have a black powdery soot all over them? That rubber is going somewhere, it doesn't just magically disappear.

This is a very important scientific finding. It's consistent with a host of other studies showing the higher levels of dirty air and the increases in heart disease, respiratory disease, and pre-term birth and low birth-weight for those living near freeways. The situation demands three responses: (1) dramatically reduce air pollution emissions from cars and trucks as much and as quickly as possible, (2) stop building residences near freeways, and (3) establish regulations that protect those who live near freeways. The first is the responsibility of EPA and the California Air Resources Board. The second can only be done by cities and counties. The third falls almost exclusively under EPA's jurisdiction, and they've begun to address it by proposing new clean air regulations that require near-freeway monitoring.

As a member of the South Coast Air Quality Management District Governing Board, I encourage everyone to take an active role in how cities, counties, and air quality agencies deal with this situation.

Same study executed by researchers in the Netherlands years ago, same results!!! But like many other studies in a similar direction where we got results that shocks us, what are the action steps, what do we do against those pollutions? We talking about Particulate Matter and NO2 that threatens peoples life day by day and still there is only a minor public awareness? The California ARB tries to get the air better with regulations but against lobbyists of big companies who make diesel driven vehicles, against fleet owners who don't want to do anything to clean up their fleets because it cost money.
They arguing for months and years until something happens but in between all the people getting sick and die and in particular our kids. Take a look to Europe where measurements and regulations in place already for almost 20 years. I.e. in Germany you are not allowed to drive into a certain area (city, streets etc) if you don't have a green sticker on your vehicle and it doesn't matter if it is driven by gas or diesel. They have to be clean to a certain degree.
Think about the facts, results, and action steps, there is no time to waste anymore to do something. Discussions and arguments are obsolete what counts are only peoples well being and lives otherwise health costs, sick days and less tax income for the state will be the result and we all know that's already worse.

We are basing the need for change upon Global Warming. Even though we have seen a Noble Prize, and an Oscar about Global Warming, that does not mean we need CAP and Trade legislation to stop this impending dome day’s situation. Global Warming for some is still a debatable item. How do I feel about Global Warming and its affects? Don’t give a damn. It is all hot air and goes against the real truth. The real truth is as follows … I believe we have what I would call … Toxic Environment Syndrome or TES.

I believe the approach to fight against TES should be similar to the way we might handle our own home environment. That is to say … we would not want our kids to play in a filthy toxic back yard, drink dirty toxic water, breathe polluted toxic air, swim in toxic or dirty water, and plant a garden in toxic soil … would we? I think not. Hence we need appropriate action to prevent TES the pollution of our air, land and seas

The Global Warming discussion and influence disappears when we have as a goal to remove the toxic influence in the three major environments that are Global in nature ... Air, Land, sea, rivers and lakes?

Sooooooooo, like the financial deregulation that lead to the bursting of the financial bubble thus leading to regulation, that to some seems extreme; we need to regulate the pollution of our air, land, seas, rivers, lakes and other consumables that effect our quality of life. Perhaps in this way Global Warming will slow down or disappear.

By the way, opponents to of Global Warming along with proponents have not considered the impact on our World Economy our physical surroundings let alone our health as a result of Toxic Environment Syndrome TES. Go ahead and compare the costs. You can’t. There have been estimates that the legislation in the United States alone called CAP and Trade may cost anywhere from less than $100 per family per year to as much as $3100 per family per year. Can you set a dollar value on time lost at work, jobs lost, and health consequences that were created by a toxic environment? Who can evaluate the costs with respect to the negative effects on students in the classrooms? Who can evaluate the costs with respect to the negative effects on the Entire Worlds population and living environment?

CAP and Trade costs are nothing in comparison to the costs due to illness, time off from work, increases in healthcare needs just to mention a few adversities.*:IE-SearchBox&rlz=1I7GPEA_en&ei=r5sJS9_YLYnWsQOYm-HACQ&sa=X&oi=spell&resnum=0&ct=result&cd=1&ved=0CA4QBSgA&q=toxic+environment&spell=1

The above link describes the affects of a Toxic Enviornment on humans and the World.


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