'The Hidden Toll of Traffic Jams'

'Scientists Increasingly Link Vehicle Exhaust With Brain-Cell Damage, Higher Rates of Autism'

'Congested cities are fast becoming test tubes for scientists studying the impact of traffic fumes on the brain.

As roadways choke on traffic, researchers suspect that the tailpipe exhaust from cars and trucks—especially tiny carbon particles already implicated in heart disease, cancer and respiratory ailments—may also injure brain cells and synapses key to learning and memory.

New public-health studies and laboratory experiments suggest that, at every stage of life, traffic fumes exact a measurable toll on mental capacity, intelligence and emotional stability. 'There are more and more scientists trying to find whether and why exposure to traffic exhaust can damage the human brain,' says medical epidemiologist Jiu-Chiuan Chen at the University of Southern California who is analyzing the effects of traffic pollution on the brain health of 7,500 women in 22 states. 'The human data are very new.''

Robert Lee Hotz reports for the Wall St. Journal November 8, 2011.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011