According to research, air pollution due to traffic is very harmful to the heart and lungs. Those living in areas close to high traffic roads are under threat. Time spent in traffic is also dangerous; increases the risk of heart attack 3 times
There is no doubt that the law prohibiting smoking in confined spaces will reduce deaths from cardiovascular and lung diseases.
There is another smoke that has harmful effects similar to that of smoking: the gases released into the atmosphere from the exhaust pipes of motor vehicles.
Experts from the Institute of Health Effects in the United States have reviewed 700 studies on this topic around the world and published a report. In this study, which was announced in Boston on January 12, 2010, air pollution due to traffic was put under focus. The commission, composed mostly of American and European scientists, underlines that traffic-related air pollution is very harmful to the heart and lungs.
The number of vehicles is dangerous
In the late 1960s, laws were enacted to limit exhaust emissions in many developing countries that began in industrialized countries.
Significant changes in vehicle engines have enabled the reduction of harmful gases from the exhaust pipe. However, the exponential increase in the number of vehicles prevented the total of harmful gases released into the atmosphere from falling. Air pollution remains a major problem.
It is not enough to have systems that ensure the efficient and clean use of fuel in vehicles. It is also important that these systems work regularly and flawlessly. Another point is the quality of the fuel put into the gas tank.
In terms of public health, the number of vehicles is as important as the characteristics of the individual vehicles.
Whichever way you look at it, the increase in the number of cars by 40 percent in a short period of 4 years means more pollution of the air we breathe. If you add to this the exhaust of vehicles that have to spend more time in busy traffic, the gravity of the situation becomes even more evident.
Particles, 30 times smaller than a hair, in the exhaust smoke go up to the tiny airways in the lungs and cause inflammation (A). There are also particles that are 700 times smaller than the hair fiber, which pass through the lungs (B), reach the bloodstream and directly damage the veins (C).
Particles get into our lungs
Car exhaust damages our veins in many ways. There are invisible particles in the fumes exhausted by the engine.
These particles are so small that they enter the deepest parts of our lungs with the air we breathe. Here, a situation similar to inflammation created by an infecting microbe occurs.
Inflammation in one of our organs affects our entire body. Our veins are one of the most affected organs. Inflammation disturbs the thin covering of our veins. If there is, the vascular stiffness in the vascular wall increases the plaque and facilitates the coagulation of blood. Thus, it facilitates the formation and progression of arteriosclerosis.
The way to a heart attack is cleared. Air pollution does not have its harmful effect only through the lungs. Even smaller particles present in the exhaust pass through the lungs and enter the blood vessels. Once they enter the bloodstream, they participate in the destruction of the vessel wall.
Is your house close to the main road?
According to the Health Effects Institute report in the USA, those 500 meters or closer to high-traffic roads are highly affected by air pollution created by exhaust gases. In many cities in Turkey, many people fall into this group. There are a number of studies that lead the authors of the report to this conclusion. In a study conducted on 5,000 people who were followed in the Netherlands for about 10 years, it was observed that deaths due to heart and lung diseases were higher in those living near the main roads than those living further away.
Exhaust smoke is also harmful for those who spend an hour a day on the road. In their study published 5 years ago in the prestigious medical journal New England Journal of Medicine, they aimed to determine what triggered the crisis in nearly 700 patients who had a heart attack. They found that time spent in traffic was an important factor. Whether in their own cars, on public transport or on a bicycle, the risk of heart attack increases almost 3 times for those exposed to heavy traffic.
Diseases caused by
The damage to our heart and veins caused by air pollution caused by motor vehicles is just one side of the problem. The first organ that invisible particles in the exhaust fumes attack is our lungs. Particles, depending on their size, settle in almost every part of the airways and cause diseases such as asthma and chronic bronchitis. They make the condition of those who have breathing difficulties worse. Lung cancer prevalence is higher in cities with intense air pollution than in areas with clean air.
Our personal efforts play a big role in protecting our cardiovascular health, but it is not enough.
Unless we come together and fight collectively, we cannot improve the environment we use in common. We all have a duty to correct the conditions that threaten our most fundamental right, clean air.
According to studies, those who live 50 meters from the traffic have the highest level of vascular stiffness … Even if they are less than 200 meters away. The report published in the USA states that the direct effect of exhaust smoke can be detected within 500 meters.