If you are among the countless Americans who long for a shorter commute, less time spent in traffic shuffling kids to and from soccer practice or piano lessons, you are not alone. What you may not realize though is that the volume of time you spend behind the wheel could actually be harming not only your health, but also your children's.
Here's why: breathing tailpipe pollution can cause serious respiratory distress. Even if you drive with your windows up, you are still breathing dirty highway pollution that can trigger severe asthma attacks, jeopardize children's lung development, cause heart attacks and even premature death. Even if your children aren't in the car, their soccer fields, playgrounds and schools are often close enough to these highways to have the same effect on their developing lungs.
While today's cars are much cleaner than they used to be, as anyone who has driven on heavily congested Interstate 80 or US 11 knows, vehicle emissions are particularly concentrated on busy roadways such as these and only magnify the harmful impacts of breathing tailpipe pollution.
The American Lung Association's new report: A Penny for Prevention: The Case for Cleaner Gasoline and Vehicles effectively demonstrates how the public health benefits from setting cleaner gasoline standards and stronger emissions standards to reduce tailpipe pollutions produced by cars, light trucks and SUVs would be both significant and immediate.
Most notably, the pollution reduction equivalent would be equal to removing 33 million cars from our nation's congested roadways. That's nearly twice the number of every car and truck registered in Pennsylvania. Once implemented, these air pollution reductions would save 2,500 lives every year and prevent more than 3.3 million missed school and workdays due to illness.
We now have sufficient and conclusive scientific evidence that confirms constant exposure to tailpipe pollution disproportionately harms the health of those who live, work and attend school near busy roadways most. Up to 45 percent of the nation is going about their daily lives within dangerous proximity of heavy traffic pollution.