You probably know exhaust fumes are bad for your lungs, but did you know living near a busy road could also cause harm to your kidneys and heart?
A team of scientists lead by Dr Murray Mittleman of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Centre in Boston discovered a link between living in close proximity to busy, polluted roads and having damaged kidneys and arteries.
Researchers looked at 1,100 patients who had suffered a stroke in the Boston, Massachusetts area to see whether pollution had any effect on their glomerular filtration rate (eGFR), an indicator of whether a kidney is processing naturally formed creatine as it should. It turns out those who live within 1km of a busy road had low rates of eGFR.
Unsurprisingly, those within a 50 metre radius of polluted roads had kidneys in the worst shape, suggesting the more fumes you inhale, the worse the damage becomes.
The report claims car fumes create hard deposits in blood vessels and arteries, impeding blood flow, which eventually leads to all-manner of nasty bodily defects including kidney damage and heart disease.
The report suggested living within a stone’s throw of pollution meant you were 4 per cent more likely to meet your maker from a cardiovascular-related disorder.
Dr Tim Chico of the University of Sheffield, UK, explained, “since we know traffic pollution increases the risk of heart disease, the message of this study – that traffic pollution might damage the kidneys – is perhaps to be expected.”
Chico maintains there’s still plenty of research to be done to clinically prove the link, adding that, “the current study only shows an ‘association’; it does not prove living next to a road definitely affects kidney function.”
Numerous research efforts in the past have revealed aerial pollution is very bad. A study by scientists of the University of California in Los Angeles found high levels of diesel pollutants triggered genetic changes that led to the hardening of arteries and arterial blood vessel disease.
Another study, involving 65,000 women living across 36 US cities, found those living in high pollution areas were at greater risk of heart disease, stroke and death.
So there you have it ─ either invest in a breathing mask or move to the country.