Research Suggests Childhood Cancer Linked to Highway Pollution

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

At the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research this past week, researchers presented data suggesting childhood health complications resulting from traffic-related air pollution.

The researchers – from UCLA, USC, and UC Irvine – found a higher rate of lymphoblastic leukemia (cancer of the lymph nodes) and two other rare forms of childhood cancer where there was a higher incidence of pollution. To collect the data, scientists used the California Department of Transportation’s computer model of traffic-related air pollution.

“The main reason for undertaking this study was that we know much more about the causes of adult cancers than we do of the causes of childhood cancers,” commented Julia Heck, Ph.D., M.P.H., of the University of California, Los Angeles School of Public Health. 3,590 youngsters were selected at random from the California Cancer Registry.


These children were born from 1998 to 2007 and were diagnosed at age 5 or younger. Controls were selected from the California birth roll.

Using the computer model, scientists generated estimates of pollution exposure at the pregnant mother’s home during different stages of her term.

Exposure during the child’s first year was also closely monitored. The estimates included a 1,500m radius and considered traffic volumes, roadway geometry, and the emission rates of gas and diesel-powered vehicles.