If you’re like most people, your car is more than just a means of transportation — much, much more. It represents freedom. Your independence to go places, choose your own path and for the adventurous types, discovering the previously unexplored.
For nearly a century the hyper-mobile society we live in has meant we have developed a deep love affair with our automobiles. The social interdependence between human and machine is undeniable, but it goes farther than that.
There’s a psychological dependence too. Modern humans have developed a nearly innate ability to see our vehicles as an extension of ourselves.
Given the sanctity of that relationship, what I’m about to tell you won’t come easy, but you need to know. Our cars are making us — and perhaps worse, our children — sick.
That’s right. Scientific experts have reams of data to show that the nation faces an epidemic of illnesses that are exacerbated by vehicle exhaust. These illnesses include cardiovascular disease, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), lung cancer and diabetes.
The latest study, presented on April 8, 2013 at the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) 2013 Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., showed a possible link between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and several childhood cancers.
Julia Heck, an epidemiologist at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health and member of Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center found that increased exposure to traffic-related air pollution during pregnancy was associated with a higher incidence of acute lymphoblastic leukemia (a white blood cell cancer) and two other rare childhood cancers.
Specifically, Heck found a link to germ cell tumors — cancers of the testicles, ovaries, and other organs — and eye cancer, called retinoblastoma, particularly the type that affects both eyes.
Previous international studies have linked childhood leukemia, lymphomas and brain tumors to vehicle exhaust. The UCLA study is the first to look at vehicle air pollution and rare childhood cancers. The highest increases were found for retinoblastoma and germ cell tumors.