Home' Nova National : October 2009 Contents ARE YOUR allergies playing up and you're
not sure why? Here's a factor you may
not have considered yet. How close is the
busiest traffic road to your house? And how
many cars do you see going by? If the road
is 100 metres or less from your house and
more than 10 cars drive by in an average
minute of the day, then you are more likely
to suffer allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma
and allergic eczema, according to a group
of Swedish researchers who published
their results this year in the International
Journal of Health Geographics.
That's not surprising when you
consider that more than 7,200 cars would
have driven by in just 24 hours, and that
each released their ultra fine particles into
the surrounding air, just waiting to be
sucked in by the surrounding residents
before they settle. Seven thousand may
sound like a lot of cars, but according to
data collected by Main Roads Western
Australia, some streets in busy residential
areas regularly clock up that amount
several times over in just one average
working day, while some busy highways
with houses alongside can have well in
excess of 50,000 vehicles whizz by them in
the same 24 hour period.
When researchers in Germany last year
studied almost 6,000 children aged four
to six, they also found that exposure to fine
particulate matter and nitrogen dioxide
from traffic pollution associated with busy
roads significantly elevated the incidence
of atopic diseases such as asthmatic
bronchitis, hay fever and eczema. And the
frequency of disease increased relative to
A literature review published this year
in Environmental Health regarding
the impact of traffic exhaust on the
development of asthma and allergic
sensitisation in children commented that,
"The consistency in the results indicates
that traffic exhaust contributes to the
development of respiratory symptoms
in healthy children." They went on to
comment on the link between certain
genetic phenotype variants and the
tendency to develop allergic sensitivities
when triggered by traffic-related pollution.
So, the crux of it is, pollution is bad
for us and people who live by busy roads
may incur health problems. Some suffer
more for their choices (or the choices
of their parents) than others will, and
genetic susceptibility or lack thereof will
play a role in disease atopic development.
It gets worse -- increased exposure to fine
particulate air pollution induced by road
traffic has also been linked to an increase in
the incidence of heart disease, Alzheimer 's
disease, rheumatoid arthritis, reduced
immune defence, lowered birth weight
and, according to brand new research
awaiting publication in the Journal of
Epidemiology and Community Health,
it is even linked to adverse cognitive
development in children.
All of this is very scary when you
think about the amount of time many of
us spend either on or near a busy road. It
really makes you wonder just how badly
your health is being affected as you pull up
at the lights, sitting patiently as the old car
in front of you coughs and splutters more
than its fair share of black smoke in your
direction. Unfortunately for the athletes,
running and cycling along busy roads may
not be doing as much for your health as you
This brings us to the "what can we do
about it" section. The first thing I'm going
to suggest may be out of the question for
many people. Lower your exposure by
restricting the amount of time that you
spend close to a busy road -- this includes
driving, living or exercising. Granted,
moving house or changing work is a
grander suggestion than taking a different
cycling or jogging route, so I understand
if you simply install an air filter into your
home or office or simply spend less time
in the garden when the wind blows traffic
fumes in your direction.
The next thing is to reduce the effects
of the pollution on your body by buffering
the acute oxidative and inflammatory
activity generated by exposure to the toxins.
And last, my old favourite, detoxification
of the toxins that trigger the inflammation
and oxidation in the first place.
Certain herbs and nutrients can increase
your body's ability to detoxify faster
and more efficiently. A good example of
this was written about recently in the
Journal of Clinical Immunology, with a
standardised homogenate of sulforaphane-
rich broccoli sprouts exhibiting the
dose-dependent ability to increase the
scavenging of free radicals, as well as
detoxifying inflammatory chemicals in the
upper respiratory tract.
Given that for most of us at least, cars
play a major role in our lives and most of us
spend a good deal of time near busy roads,
it would be wise to offset the negative
effects of traffic pollution on our health by
following a food and supplement regime
that provides daily detoxification, anti-
inflammatory and antioxidant support. ●
Jeremy Hill (Diploma of Natural Therapy)
is a Qualified Naturopath
© NOVA 0CTOBER 2009
'If the road is 100 metres or less from your house and more than 10 cars
drive by in an average minute of the day, then you are more likely to
suffer allergic rhinitis, allergic asthma and allergic eczema.'
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