Living too near a busy road could stunt a child’s lung development, U.S. research involving 3,677 children suggests, BBC News Online reports.
Children who lived within 500 metres of a major road, such as a highway, were shown to have lung impairment in tests.
Many children live and go to schools near to busy roads and could be at risk, the University of Southern California authors warn in The Lancet.
Experts know toxic traffic fumes can trigger lung conditions such as asthma. But the latest work suggests pollution can stop the lung from growing to its full potential — even in children who are otherwise healthy.
Children living in the countryside but close to a main road would also be at risk, the researchers add. However, those living close to big roads in cities with high levels of background air pollution were likely to be at a greater risk of lung problems because of the double effect on their lungs, they suggest.
Those who had lived within 500 metres of a motorway had much poorer lung function at the age of 18, even when factors such as smoking in the home were taken into account.