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Living close to heavy traffic strongly linked to heart disease deaths

Research from a study of over a million individuals in Italy shows that there is a link between long-term exposure to vehicle pollution and deaths from heart disease and lung cancer.

The research was carried out in 2001 focusing on residents over 30 years old who had lived in Rome for five years of more (1,265,058 people in total). The data was combined with geographical information on the location of traffic hotspots in relation to the homes of residents and modelled PM2.5 and NO2 levels. The health status of people in the study was examined to identify who had died between 2001 and 2010.

The data showed that 12% of those included in the study died during this period, with 40% of deaths caused by cardiovascular disease. Those living in traffic hotspots were more likely to have died from this disease and the risk of death increases with increased exposure to traffic pollutants.

The research identified that the strongest link was between traffic pollution and death from ischemic heart disease, which is characterised by fatty deposits and the narrowing of the arteries around the heart. It is important to note that the analysis did account for other factors that might lead to ill health including, age, sex, education, marital status, occupation and smoking.

Source of article: EC Science for Environment Policy May 2013

Last updated on 8 October 2013

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