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.


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  • 69 Comments
      recharged95
      • 3 Years Ago
      DC is in the top 5 for worst traffic. Explains why the politicians are not thinking right.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 3 Years Ago
      You mean car exhaust is not good for you?
      Christopher Anderson
      • 3 Years Ago
      "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." That's not really news to anyone. I know my personality and decision making changes a bit after sitting in traffic for 30 minutes. And I suspect it doesn't have much to do with exhaust fumes either.
      kontroll
      • 3 Years Ago
      no wonder californians are so F****d up
      pkchari
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ugh. This is what happens when your source for scientific knowledge is mainstream press like the WSJ. First of all, any time a newspaper says that "scientists have linked X and Y", they're telling you something which is completely untrue. What is most likely really the case is that a certain degree of correlation has been shown which may or may not even be statistically significant. You ask actual scientists who worked on these studies, I guarantee you that none of them will say they've actually causally linked any of these things together -- only journalists say that. The other point about autism makes the usual mistake every media outlet makes about autism -- it's talking about rate of diagnosis, not rate of incidence. The main reason for the modern upswing in autism diagnoses is that it has now been classified as a very broad spectrum of disorders ranging from extremely innocuous to debilitatingly sociopathic. That means, in effect, that it is very easy for a wide range of symptoms to appear as if they are signs of autism -- i.e. the rate of wrong diagnoses has also gone up. But nobody tells you that, of course, because that might be factually correct and not particularly interesting. Similar thing with this particular set of studies they cite -- if there's a correlation shown with brain damage, then of course there would also be a correlation with autism diagnoses since pretty much any form of brain damage can easily masquerade as one of the dozens of autism spectrum disorders without deeper study of individual subjects. There's no data whatsoever or claim specifically by any of the source material to suggest that there is actually a correlation in the actual incidence of autism. This is sickening! And it's even more sickening that journalists, editors, etc. have little to no interest in taking seriously the task of conveying science to the masses _correctly_ rather than merely understandably. AARRRRGGHGH!!! But nooo... it's scientists who form an evil and shady society.
      4 String
      • 3 Years Ago
      Let me get this straight for yall who are so quick to jump the gun and cry foul at the scientific community. This was a correlational study (and an old one at that, gee thanks autoBLOG), not an experimental one. There is a HUGE difference. No causation was claimed at all by the researchers. So stop trashing science. Research studies are peer-reviewed and double checked more thoroughly than Microsoft Office's spell-checker and a lie detector. Scientists know what they're doing (it requires 5-7 difficult years to get a Ph.D.), and merely inquire into questions posited. They are not out to get you, rape your mothers, or set your local courthouse on fire. Any misunderstanding that this is a causational inference is the fault of the media or the viewers themselves. In every research study, limitations to the generalizability of the study are explicitly stated (yet often ignored by sensationalist headlines / readers who should be more cynical of the media than top-tier universities).
      RSS007
      • 3 Years Ago
      If this is true, then the solution and "medication" for this unfortunate issue is: Speed. Drive fast when the light turns green. Take ramps fast, turns fast, off the light sooner, get to the posted speed as soon as possible. This will reduce pollution, because everything will move faster, less congestion creating less smoke ( however little there is per car, but that adds up with many cars) and everything will be fine. Speed cures everything. Your brain will need to compute things faster and thus less cells will die. If you don't use the muscle , you will lose it. Ask the people with Dementia. Oh wait....
      rlog100
      • 3 Years Ago
      Using those criteria, you create two vastly different demographics wrt to at least income, race, and education, if not a long list of other factors. Any of which could be the culprit.
      NissanGTR
      • 3 Years Ago
      So does incest, drug use, infection/illness during pregnancy. Dont blame the auto because its an easy target.
      emperor koku
      • 3 Years Ago
      EVs just make sense.
      chromal
      • 3 Years Ago
      This isn't all too surprising. There had already been studies conducted on child development before and after the switch from leaded to unleaded gasoline that found similar evidence of long-term poisoning from tailpipe gasses. I'm glad I live up in a forest, but wish I didn't work so close to I-25...
      • 3 Years Ago
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