Facts about living near a freeway or power plant

Leonardo Trasande, MD, explains the negative health effects that can be caused by living near a freeway or power plant and what can be done to protect from these
Health Issues Caused By Living Near A Freeway or Power Plant
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Facts about living near a freeway or power plant

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Vehicles and power plants can emit particles into the air that can irritate the lungs, especially in children who have asthma--they can have worsening of their condition and require additional treatment. In addition, those particles can irritate the sinuses and upper airways, contributing to congestion and cold symptoms or allergy symptoms as a result. There are two things that families can do if they have a concern relating to a power plant or a freeway being nearby. They can consult with their local pediatric/environmental health specialty unit or their local doctor to get some advice about what they can do in terms of treatment--for example, additional treatment for their asthma, in terms of preventive medicines, to prevent worsening of the asthma from irritation due to these pollutants. Also, they can work together with their communities to identify ways to creatively resolve the sources of air pollution exposure. It doesn't necessarily require uprooting from one's home, which can be a very traumatic experience.

Leonardo Trasande, MD, explains the negative health effects that can be caused by living near a freeway or power plant and what can be done to protect from these

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Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP

Associate Professor, NYU School of Medicine

Dr. Leo Trasande's research focuses on identifying the role of environmental exposures in childhood obesity and cardiovascular risks, and documenting the economic costs for policy makers of failing to prevent diseases of environmental origin in children proactively. Dr. Trasande is perhaps best known for a 2012 Journal of the American Medical Association study associating Bisphenol A exposure in children and adolescents with obesity, and a 2011 study in Health Affairs which found that children's exposures to chemicals in the environment cost $76.6 billion in 2008. His analysis of the economic costs of mercury pollution played a critical role in preventing the Clear Skies Act (which would have relaxed regulations on emissions from coal-fired power plants) from becoming law. He has also published a series of studies which document increases in hospitalizations associated with childhood obesity and increases in medical expenditures associated with being obese or overweight in childhood.

These studies have been cited in the Presidential Task Force Report in Childhood Obesity, and another landmark study identified that a $2 billion annual investment in prevention would be cost-effective even if it produced small reductions in the number of children who were obese and overweight. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Council for Environmental Health of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and on the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee for the World Trade Center Health Program. He recently served on a United Nations Environment Programme Steering Committee which published a Global Outlook on Chemicals in 2013, and on the Board of Scientific Counselors for the National Center for Environmental Health at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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