Exhaust pipes

A new series of health studies may have discovered a link between vehicle exhaust and a range of ailments, including autism, Alzheimer's Disease and more. The Wall Street Journal reports that scientists around the world have conducted studies investigating the impact of exhaust fumes on families living close to highways. The researchers are quick to point out that the results are still circumstantial at this point, but that doesn't make their findings any easier to live with. For example, children who live in areas affected by high levels of emissions typically score lower on intelligence tests than their peers and are more prone to depression, anxiety and attention issues.

Then there are the autism rates. Researchers found that children born to mothers living within 1,000 feet of a major roadway in Los Angeles, Sacramento or San Francisco were twice as likely to be born with autism regardless of factors like race, gender or family education level. In Mexico, the studies found that exposure to exhaust can cause a type of brain swelling similar to what Alzheimer's patients endure.

It doesn't get much better for those of us who are occasionally trapped in traffic jams. The studies found that breathing in high-traffic areas for just 30 minutes can cause increased brain activity in the areas responsible for personality and decision making. Head over to The Wall Street Journal for a look at the full report.