The Link Between Traffic and Asthma

If you live near a busy roadway and find yourself short of breath or constantly wheezing, your address could be to blame. In fact, researchers now believe that there's a strong link between daily exposure to steady streams of traffic and allergic asthma.

Traffic and Asthma

Scientists looked at teenage residents of a poor area in Lima, Peru, which is known for particularly high rates of asthma, and discovered that those living closest to busy streets seem to be more susceptible to asthma. For instance, teenagers living right by the road had up to a 30 percent higher risk of having an allergic reaction to other common allergens like mold, pollen, dust mites, and animals. They were also twice as likely to have allergic asthma symptoms than their counterparts living about four blocks away.

These findings, which appeared in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology in January 2011, were based on the results of 725 participants who ranged in age from 13 to 15.

Further Research

Scientists are delving into the relationship between traffic and asthma even further. They're hoping that with more research, they can find additional information that will help with future efforts to prevent allergic asthma symptoms in people who live in high traffic areas. .

What this Means for You

If you have asthma and live in a busy part of your city or town, there's no immediate need to pack up and move. There are some steps you can take to help control your allergies and related respiratory symptoms.

For instance, be sure to minimize your exposure to pollen, smoke, and mold. Keep your windows closed to keep these allergens from getting into your home, take a warm (but not hot) shower and wash your clothes in very hot water after spending time outdoors.

It's also essential that you follow an asthma action plan very closely. It should include a listing of your early warning signs, directions on how to take your medications regularly, and a treatment strategy you can implement when you notice a change in your symptoms. Be proactive. You can manage your asthma regardless of where you live.


Gehring U, et. al." Traffic-Related Air Pollution and the Development of Asthma and Allergies During the First 8 years of Life." American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, Vol 181 (2010): 596-603. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.

"Living Near Busy Roadways Ups Chances of Allergic Asthma." Johns Hopkins Medicine. The Johns Hopkins University, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Health System, 18 Jan. 2011.  Web. 3 Feb. 3, 2011.

"Warning Signs and Symptoms for Asthma." Asthma Initiative of Michigan. American Lung Association of Michigan, 29 June, 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2011.