A Swiss study released yesterday shows the health risks of living near a highway. The study by the Bern based Institute of Social and Preventative Medicine (ISPM) found that young children living less than 100m from a highway are at a substantially higher risk of leukaemia.
Traffic emissions contain known carcinogens, such as benzene and the study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology suggests traffic related pollution may increase the risk of leukaemia in young children. Researchers looked at the Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry to identify those with cancer among the 2 million Swiss children aged less than 16 years. Then they compared the risks for different cancer types, including leukaemia, lymphoma and brain tumours in those living less than 100 m, 100-250m and 250-500 m from the nearest highway to that in children living more than 500 m from a highway. Among children living closest to highways (<100 m) the risk of leukaemia was found to be about 50% higher. When the researchers looked at different age groups, a twofold increase in risk was found in children aged 0-4 years, but no evidence of an increased risk in older children.