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“These kids will come in four, five, six times over a six-month period, and clearly their environment is a factor,” he said.
"I feel for these families because they suffer an undue burden of illness simply because of where they live.“ Dr.
or more than a decade, California air quality officials have warned against building homes within 500 feet of freeways.
And with good reason: People there suffer higher rates of asthma, heart attacks, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births.
That emerging science has raised concerns that decades of government regulations, aimed at curbing smog that builds up across vast urban areas, are not sufficiently tailored to the more localized problem of roadway pollution.
Two years ago, state environmental officials concluded that diesel soot and other carcinogens in vehicle exhaust pose nearly three times the cancer risk previously thought.
Scientists suspect ultra-fine particles are able to pass through the lungs and into the bloodstream, where they may harm the heart, brain and other organs.
Yet they remain unregulated by state and federal authorities.
The population near Los Angeles freeways is growing faster than elsewhere in the city as planners push developers to concentrate new housing near transportation hubs, convinced that increasing urban density will help meet state targets for greenhouse gas reductions.
Rob Mc Connell, a professor of preventive medicine at USC who studies roadway pollution, is one of a number of health researchers who has advised city officials not to allow new housing that close to freeways.
“I tell them you’re going to make a lot of people sick,” Mc Connell said.
More than 1.2 million people already live in high-pollution zones within 500 feet of a Southern California freeway, with more moving in every day.
Between 20 — the most recent period available — the population within 500 feet of a Los Angeles freeway grew 3.9%, compared with a rate of 2.6% citywide.