Medscape just published an excellent brief for physicians on the health effects of air pollution, with an interview of John R. Balmes, MD, professor of medicine and professor of environmental health sciences at the University of California and director of the Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.
Dr. Balmes emphasizes the dangers of traffic related air pollution, and suggests that EPA need to improve how the agency regulates it. A few key quotes:
For example, exposure to traffic emissions appears to be particularly harmful to health, but those are not just PM2.5 or oxides of nitrogen; they are a mixture of those pollutants plus many more.” Of particular concern, Dr Balmes explains, are the polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a large group of more than 100 chemicals formed as a result of incomplete combustion of such organic materials as fossil fuels (diesel, gasoline, coal, and oil).
Dr Balmes believes that it may be necessary to change the way the EPA currently regulates air quality. “Although it has led to improvement, at this point it may not be the only way we should be doing it,” he suggests. “We are focusing on the multipollutant mixture, particularly traffic emissions, because that is where we have the best evidence that exposure to it as a whole is more harmful than to any one component,” he points out.
For more information, read the complete article:
Why Should You Care About the Air? – Ambient Air Pollution and Health