2006_10_health_asthma.jpgEven without the sleep-busting noise and window-covering grime that come from the passing traffic, living near a highway comes with other hazards. The Times reports today about a recent NYU study that found that children who live in the Bronx suffer from higher asthma rates thanks to the number of busy roads that tread so close to where they work and play. The study, which involved asthma-stricken schoolchildren wearing detectors that analyzed the air around them, concluded that the kiddies were definitely exposed to high levels of pollutants and children in the South Bronx were twice as likely to go school near a highway when compared to students in other parts of the city. The students wheeled the backpacks around with them daily, reported to researchers twice a day, and kept diaries of their symptoms. The main culprit is felt to be small particles arising from diesel fuel, which are tiny enough to embed themselves in the tot's lungs. And Bronx County is one of ten New York State Counties that exceed the current federal air quality standards for fine particles.

Asthma is the result of an inflammatory reaction within the lungs where the airways become hyper-reactive to irritants and go into spasm from insult. The airways also tend to produce more mucus than usual, further lending to narrowing. Nine out of 1,000 asthma sufferers under the age of 14 will be hospitalized at some point for the illness. And of the 10 asthma hot-spots In New York, 5 are in the Bronx - here's a map from the Department of Health showing the prevalence of asthma.