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Ed Yeates ReportingThe risk of a heart attack while driving in traffic, and stunted lung development in children -- new studies show pollution seems to be the villain in both cases.
Utah air pollution researcher, Dr. Arden Pope says one of the two studies could be the most comprehensive yet in evaluating the lung condition of children over a ten year period.
Called the California Children's Health Study, this may be one of the strongest indictments yet on the dangers of air pollution. Dr. Arden Pope is recognized nationally now as one of the foremost experts on health risks and pollution. He and his colleagues at Brigham Young University were among the first to document pollution related respiratory illnesses in Salt Lake and Utah counties.
The New England Journal of Medicine asked him to write an editorial on the Southern California study, a study Pope calls extremely important.
Dr. Arden Pope, BYU EpidemiologIcal Research: "What they found is if you followed these children over a period of ten years, the children that were exposed to the most pollution had deficits in growth and lung function over this ten year period that were measurable and quite significant."
After ten years, at age eighteen, the children showed those deficits. When they were selected for the study ten yeas ago they were healthy.
Dr. Arden Pope: "What they are seeing is that these deficits in lung function are occurring in these panels of relatively healthy children. These were not selected on the basis of asthma or some other disease."
In another study out of Germany, researchers showed motorists susceptible to cardiovascular disease were at a two to three fold risk for heart attacks while inhaling fumes in traffic.
Dr. Arden Pope: "It appears that this increase in risk of a heart attack is due to a combination of more air pollution and more stress."
Dr. Pope says if you review all the studies over the last ten to fifteen years, there's an increasing consensus among researchers that fine particulate in air pollution is a major risk factor.