Traffic victims

2019-03-08 01:02:01

By Mick Hamer POOR people are more likely than the rich to suffer from respiratory diseases caused by traffic fumes. Simon Stevenson and his colleagues at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine took figures for deaths and hospital admissions in electoral wards across the southeast of England caused by respiratory diseases, and compared them with income in the area, the number of people owning cars and levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air—a key pollutant produced by traffic. They found that in affluent districts, where car ownership is highest, there were low levels of pollution and respiratory disease. In part, this was because affluent regions were more likely to be rural. But even within large towns and cities, the relationship between poverty and respiratory disease was still strong, largely because poor areas had a higher density of roads and traffic. “People who live in poor areas suffer more from the effects of pollution,” says Stevenson. Campaigners against traffic say the study shows that affluent commuters cause health problems for the poor by driving into work in inner-city areas. “This research shows that traffic pollution is mainly caused by the better-off,” says Roger Higman, the transport campaigner for Friends of the Earth. The findings add to those showing a link between poverty and road accidents (This Week, 8 November 1997,