Traffic-Related Air Pollution: Asthma, Allergies, and Lung Function
Health Canada evaluated the link between asthma, allergies, and lung function, and pollution from traffic, called traffic-related air pollution (TRAP).
In Canada, and around the world, traffic is a major source of air pollution especially in urban areas. The mixture of vehicle exhausts, air pollutants formed in the atmosphere, and non-combustion emissions (such as road dust, tire wear, brake wear, evaporation of fuels) is referred to as TRAP. Pollutants in TRAP include: nitrogen dioxide (NO2), particulate matter (PM), black carbon (BC), ultrafine particles (UFP), carbon monoxide (CO), benzene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
TRAP is an important component of the real-world pollutant mixture many Canadians are exposed to daily. An estimated ten million people in Canada (almost 1/3 of the total population) live within 500 meters of highways or 100 meters of major urban roads. In addition, urban Canadians spend on average, an hour or more a day in microenvironments influenced by moderate to heavy traffic, including travelling in a vehicle or being engaged in active transportation.
This assessment provides an evaluation of the scientific literature. It was concluded that TRAP exposure:
- causes development and worsening of asthma symptoms in children, and may cause worsening of asthma symptoms in adults
- may cause allergies to worsen
- likely reduces lung function
Given Canadians' daily exposure to TRAP, it is intended that this report be used to inform and support programs and policies designed to mitigate exposure and the associated health impacts of TRAP in Canada.
Read the entire assessment here.
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