Traffic Pollution 2019

Health Consequences of an Inland Port, Change in Traffic Permitted on Legacy Parkway, and Related Expansion of the SLC Airport


Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment


The proposed inland port and the conversion of the Legacy Parkway to an open freeway will have a profound negative effect on public health on the Wasatch Front, especially to residents in the affected areas.   The Los Angeles Times states, “Experts are most concerned about people living near ports, warehouse distribution centers and other freight corridors. Asthma rates and cancer risk there can be so elevated that physicians have labeled it the ‘diesel death zone.’”43


Numerous studies have established that people who live near freeways breathe substantially more pollution than residents who live further away. The zone of increased pollution along freeways is about two miles wide.  People who live, work or travel within 300 to 500 meters of a major freeway are exposed to the most dangerous part of air pollution, ultrafine particulate matter (0.1 microns in size and smaller), at concentrations 25-30 times higher than the rest of the community.15,38  For people who live near a freeway, the concentration of freeway generated ultra fine pollution inside their homes can be as high as 90% of the concentration of outdoor air along the freeway corridor.16


The medical literature is voluminous and definitive regarding the extensive adverse health impacts experienced by people who live near freeways.  The list of diseases provoked by living near a freeway is almost identical to the list of diseases known to be caused by first and second hand cigarette exposure.  People who live by freeways have shorter life spans,and increased risk of premature death.40 Traffic related air pollution causes DNA damage46 including shortened telomeres (a critical part of chromosomes). Shortened telomeres are highly correlated with reduced life expectancy.32  Through damage to germ cell DNA, air pollution can cause adverse health outcomes even if the only exposure is pre-conception,47 i.e. it is a multi-generational health risk, and can cause harm to children not yet born to future parents.


Children exposed to heavy truck traffic have increased rates of asthma, respiratory symptoms, and hospitalization for asthma. 2,3,4  Lung function among children who live near truck traffic is more likely to be reduced. 5  Children who live within 500 meters of a major highway are not only more likely to develop asthma and other respiratory diseases, but their lung development may also be stunted permanently.20 Adults living near freeways have an increased of developed Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).39


Pregnant women who live near high traffic areas more likely to have premature and low birth weight babies, 6,24,25 pregnancy complications that adversely affect a person’s life long susceptibility to a wide spectrum of impaired organ development and chronic disease.  People directly exposed to more traffic related air pollution have more DNA damage, a trigger for multiple chronic diseases including cancer.31  Exposure to carcinogenic benzene (a prominent component of traffic pollution)  is greater for children living near high traffic areas.9  Numerous studies have established that children living near busy roads are more likely to develop cancer.7,8  Living within 100 meters of a freeway increases the risk of childhood leukemia 370%, living within 300 meters increases the risk 100%.26  Women exposed to more traffic-related air pollution have higher rates of breast cancer and decreased survival if they get breast cancer. Background Wasatch Front levels correlate with an increase risk of about 125%, living near a freeway increases that much more.27  Chronic exposure to traffic air pollution increases the risk of lung cancer. 28  High traffic air pollution exposure more than doubles the rate of cervical and brain cancer, and increases the risk of prostate cancer and stomach cancer. 29,30


Proposed changes in the use of the Legacy Highway and the inland will both be marked by significant increases in the exposure of nearby populations to diesel exhaust.  A recent study concluded that of all the different types of particulate pollution, “The highest toxicity score was  obtained for diesel engine exhaust particles.”48  


California regulators have calculated that 80% of the cancer risk of air pollution stems from diesel particulates.  The greatest health impacts from traffic pollution appear to be related to the volume of heavy-duty diesel powered vehicles.49,50  A recent landmark study indicates that long term exposure to even low levels of diesel exhaust raises the risk of dying from lung cancer about 50% for residents who live near industrial operations, and about 300% for the workers.51,52

In response to these studies, Joseph Fraumeni Jr., Director of the National Cancer Institute’s Division of Cancer Epidemiology and Genetics, stated, “The findings suggest that the risks may extend to other workers exposed to diesel exhaust and to people living in urban areas where diesel exhaust levels are elevated.” The national association of state and local air quality control officers conducted a health risk assessment of diesel emissions in its report Cancer Risk from Diesel Particulate: National and Metropolitan Area Estimates for the United States. They concluded that diesel emissions may be responsible for 125,000 cancer cases in the U.S. annually.37  Emissions from vehicles in total account for about 90% of the cancer risk from over all air pollution.10


Adults that live closer to heavily trafficked roads have higher blood pressure and more disease of small arteries.44  The rate of progression of hardening of the arteries, the cause of strokes, heart attacks and generalized aging, is double for those living within 100 meters of a freeway.14

Adults acutely exposed to traffic related air pollution experience a nearly immediate increase in their risk for a heart attack.11 Chronic exposure increases blood pressure and the risk of hospitalization and death from heart attacks.12,13


Traffic generated air pollution is toxic to the adult brain, and brain development in children and babies in utero.  Living within 1,000 ft of a freeway doubles the risk of a child being born with autism,18 and is associated with higher rates of neurobehavioral disorders.19 Children growing up with more traffic pollution have significantly lower IQs and impaired memory.21  Pregnant mothers exposed to more air pollution, give birth to children with lower intelligence, and behavioral and attention deficit disorders, even if the children breathe clean air themselves.22,23  Adults living near heavily trafficked roads have higher risks of dementia and impaired cognition.41,42   In healthy human volunteers, exposure to diesel exhaust causes a stress pattern in their EEG measured brain waves within 30 minutes of exposure.54


Residential proximity to major roadways is associated with decreased kidney function.33

Long term exposure to traffic-related air pollution is associated with insulin resistance in children and type II diabetes in adults. 34,35,36


Carbon monoxide is often dismissed or forgotten in the discussion of community air pollution, but it is an important component of the pollution that heavily concentrates near freeways. There is no filter that will capture or reduce exposure to carbon monoxide in contrast to particulate matter. Chronic exposure during pregnancy to miniscule levels of carbon monoxide damages cells of the fetal brain, resulting in permanent impairment.  Fetuses and young infants are more susceptible to CO exposure for several reasons: CO crosses the placenta; fetal hemoglobin has greater affinity for CO than maternal hemoglobin; the half-life of COHb in fetal blood is three times longer than that of maternal blood, and the fetus and infants have a high rate of oxygen consumption and lower oxygen tension in the blood than adults.17


Little public discussion has emerged on the expansion of the Salt Lake City International Airport, which, if an inland is developed, will host even greater air cargo and plane emissions. Recent studies indicate that as a source of air pollution, airports have been “seriously underestimated.”   In fact people who live in metropolitan areas near airports likely have most of their air pollution exposure come from airports, not from roadways.  Airports have been shown to increase particulate pollution four times background levels up to 6 miles away.45   The combination of increased truck, train, and plane cargo emissions related to an inland port will be a major new source of air pollution and a serious new threat to public health.


In summary, if Salt Lake City is forced to accommodate an inland port it will have real, long term health consequences to most of Utah’s population.   That is especially true for those living within a few miles of the increased truck, train, and airport emissions related to inland port activity.

DOWNLOAD PDF: Traffic-pollution-Feb-2019



  1. Hoek, Brunekreef, Goldbohn, Fischer, van den Brandt. (2002). Association between mortality and indicators of traffic-related air pollution in the Netherlands: a cohort study. Lancet, 360 (9341): 1203-9.


  1. Lin, Munsie, Hwang, Fitzgerald, and Cayo. (2002). Childhood Asthma Hospitalization and Residential Exposure to State Route Traffic. Environmental Research, Section A, Vol. 88, pp. 73-81.


  1. Brauer et al. (2002). Air Pollution from Traffic and the Development of Respiratory Infections and Asthmatic and Allergic Symptoms in Children. Am J Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Vol. 166 pp 1092-1098.


  1. Venn et al. (2001). Living Near A Main Road and the Risk of Wheezing Illness in Children. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine. Vol. 164, pp 2177-2180.


  1. Brunekreef B; Janssen NA; de Hartog J; Harssema H; Knape M; van Vliet P. (1997). “Air pollution from truck traffic and lung function in children living near motor-ways.” Epidemiology. 8(3):298-303.


  1. Wilhelm, Ritz. (2002). Residential Proximity to Traffic and Adverse Birth Outcomes in Los Angeles County, California, 1994-1996. Environmental Health Perspectives. Doi: 10.1289/ehp.5688.


  1. Pearson et al. (2000). Distance-weighted traffic density in proximity to a home is a risk factor for leukemia and other childhood cancers. Journal of Air and Waste Management Association 50:175-180.


  1. Knox and Gilman (1997). Hazard proximities of childhood cancers in Great Britain from 1953-1980. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 51: 151-159.


  1. Jermann E, Hajimiragha H, Brockhaus A, Freier I, Ewers U, Roscovanu A: Exposure of children to benzene and other motor vehicle emissions. Zentralblatt fur Hygiene und Umweltmedizin 189:50-61, 1989.


  1. South Coast Air Quality Management District. Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study-II. March 2000.


  1. Peters A, von Klot S, Heier M, et al. Exposure to Traffic and the Onset of Myocardial Infarction. NEJM Vol. 351:1721-1730.


  1. 17. Koehoorn M, Davies Gan WQHW, Demers PA, Tamburic L, Brauer M. Long-Term Exposure to Traffic- Related Air Pollution and the Risk of Coronary Heart Disease Hospitalization and Mortality. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Nov 16. [Epub ahead of print]


  1. Delfino RJ, Tjoa T, Gillen DL, Staimer N, Polidori A, Arhami M, Jamner L, Sioutas C, Longhurst J. Traffic-related air pollution and blood pressure in elderly subjects with coronary artery disease. Epidemiology. 2010 May;21(3):396-404.


  1. Künzli N, Jerrett M, Garcia-Esteban R, Basagaña X, Beckermann B, et al. (2010) Ambient Air Pollution and the Progression of Atherosclerosis in Adults. PLoS ONE 5(2): e9096. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0009096


  1. Zhu, Hinds, Kim, Sioutas. Concentration and size distribution of ultrafine particles near a major highway. Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association. September 2002. Zhu, Hinds, Kim, Shen, Sioutas. Study of ultrafine particles near a major highway with heavy-duty diesel traffic. Atmospheric Environment. 36(2002), 4323-4335.


  1. Zhua Y, Hindsa W, Krudysza M , et al. Penetration of freeway ultrafine particles into indoor environments. Journal of Aerosol Science 36 (2005) 303 – 322


  1. Maynard RL & Waller R (1999) Carbon Monoxide. In: Holgate ST, Samet JM, Koren HS & Maynard RL (eds) Air Pollution and Health Academis Press: Harcourt Brace & Company, Publishers, pp. 749-796.


  1. Volk H, Hertz-Picciotto I, Delwiche L ,  Lurmann F,  McConnell R.  Residential Proximity to Freeways and Autism in the CHARGE study.  Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Dec 13. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 21156395.


  1. Wang, Z., Zeng, X, Zeng, Y, Wang, S. Chen, S.  Association of traffic-related air pollution with children’s neurobehavioral functions in Quanzhou, China.  Environ Health Perspect. 2009 Oct; 117 (10):1612-8 Epub. 2009 May 11.


  1. Gauderman WJ, et al. “Effect of exposure to traffic on lung development from 10 to 18 years of age: a cohort study,” The Lancet, Volume 368, February 2007.


  1. Suglia SF, et al. Association of Black Carbon with Cognition among Children in a Prospective Birth Cohort Study Am J Epidemiology 2008 167:280-286


  1. Frederica P. Perera, Deliang Tang, Shuang Wang, Julia Vishnevetsky, Bingzhi Zhang, Diurka Diaz, David Camann, Virginia Rauh. Prenatal Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbon (PAH) Exposure and Child Behavior at age 6-7. Environmental Health Perspectives, 2012; DOI: 10.1289/ehp. 1104315


  1. Edwards SC, Jedrychowski W, Butscher M, Camann D, Kieltyka A, Mroz E, et al. 2010. Prenatal Exposure to Airborne Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Children’s Intelligence at Age 5 in a Prospective Cohort Study in Poland. Environ Health Perspect :-. doi:10.1289/ehp.0901070


  1. Laurent O, Wu J, Li L, Chung J, Bartell S. Investigating the association between birth weight and complementary air pollution metrics: a cohort study. Environ Health. 2013 Feb 17;12(1):18. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-12-18.


  1. Wilhelm M, et al. Traffic-Related Air Toxics and Term Low Birth Weight in Los Angeles County, California. Environ Health Perspect. 2012 January; 120(1): 132–138. Published online 2011 August 11. doi: 10.1289/ ehp.1103408


  1. Amigou A, et al. “Road traffic and childhood leukemia: The ESCALE study (SFCE) authors” Environ Health Pers 2010; DOI: 10.1289/ehp.1002429.


  1. Crouse DL, Goldberg MS, Ross NA, Chen H, Labrèche F 2010. Postmenopausal Breast Cancer Is Associated with Exposure to Traffic-Related Air Pollution in Montreal, Canada: A Case–Control Study. Environ Health Perspect 118:1578-1583. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002221


  1. Raaschou-Nielsen O, Andersen Z, Hvidberg M, Jensen SS, Ketzel M, Sørensen M, Loft S, Overvad K, Tjønneland A. Lung Cancer Incidence and Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution from Traffic. Environ Health Perspect. 2011 Jan 12. [Epub ahead of print]


  1. Raaschou-Nielsen O, Andersen ZJ, Hvidberg M, Jensen SS, Ketzel M, Sørensen M, Hansen J, Loft S, Overvad K, Tjønneland A. Air pollution from traffic and cancer incidence: a Danish cohort study. Environ Health. 2011 Jul 19;10:67. doi: 10.1186/1476-069X-10-67.


  1. Parent ME, Goldberg MS, Crouse DL, Ross NA, Chen H, Valois MF, Liautaud A.

Traffic-related air pollution and prostate cancer risk: a case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Occup Environ Med. 2013 Mar 26. [Epub ahead of print]


  1. Huang HB, Lai CH, Chen GW, Lin YY, Jaakkola JJ, Liou SH, Wang SL. Traffic-related air pollution and DNA damage: a longitudinal study in Taiwanese traffic conductors. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e37412. doi: 10.1371/ journal.pone.0037412. Epub 2012 May 21.


  1. McCracken J, Baccarelli A, Hoxha M, Dioni L, Melly S, Coull B, Suh H, Vokonas P, Schwartz J. Annual ambient black carbon associated with shorter telomeres in elderly men: Veterans Affairs Normative Aging Study. Environ Health Perspect. 2010 Nov;118(11):1564-70.


  1. Lue S, Wellenius G, Wilker E, Mostofsky E, Mittleman M. Residential proximity to major roadways and renal function. J Epidemiol Community Health Published Online First: 13 May 2013 doi:10.1136/ jech-2012-202307


  1. Thiering E, Cyrys J, Kratzsch J, Meisinger C, Hoffmann B, Berdel D, von Berg A, Koletzko S, Bauer CP, Heinrich J. Long-term exposure to traffic-related air pollution and insulin resistance in children: results from the GINIplus and LISAplus birth cohorts

Diabetologia, DOI 10.1007/s00125-013-2925-x


  1. Chen H, Burnett RT, Kwong JC, Villeneuve PJ, Goldberg MS, Brook RD, van Donkelaar A, Jerrett M, Martin RV, Brook JR, Copes R. Risk of Incident Diabetes in Relation to Long-term Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter in Ontario, Canada. Environ Health Perspect (): .doi:10.1289/ehp.1205958


  1. Liu C, Ying Z, Harkema J, Sun Q, Rajagopalan S. Epidemiological and Experimental Links between Air Pollution and Type 2 Diabetes. Toxicol Pathol. 2012 Oct 26. [Epub ahead of print]


  1. Health Effects Institute Panel on the Health Effects of Traffic-Related Air Pollution, Traffic-Related Air Pollution: A Critical Review of the Literature on Emissions, Exposure, and Health Effects. Health Effects Institute: Boston, 2010. Available at


  1. Andersen ZJ, Hvidberg M, Jensen SS, Ketzel M, Loft S, Sørensen M, Tjønneland A, Overvad K, and Raaschou-Nielsen O. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and Long-Term Exposure to Traffic-related Air Pollution: A Cohort Study. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2011; 183: 455-461.


  1. Finklestein MM, Jerrett M., Sears M.R. Traffic Air Pollution and Mortality Rate Advancement Periods. Am J Epidemiol. 2004; 160: 173-177; Hoek G, Brunkreef B, Goldbohn S, Fischer P, van den Brandt. Associations between mortality and indicators of traffic-related air pollution in the Netherlands: a cohort study. Lancet. 2002; 360: 1203-1209.


  1. Chen H, KJC, Capes R, et al. Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study. Lancet. 2017. Published online


  1. Power MC, Weisskopf MG, Alexeeff SE, et al,. Traffic-related air pollution and cognitive function in a cohort of older men. Environ Health Perspect 2011;119:682–687. doi:10.1289/ehp.1002767




  1. Ward-Caviness CK, et al. Associations Between Residential Proximity to Traffic and Vascular Disease in a Cardiac Catheterization Cohort.  Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology. 2017;38:275–282


  1. Hudda N, et al. Emissions from an International Airport Increase Particle Number Concentrations 4-fold at 10 km Downwind.  Environ. Sci. Technol., 2014, 48 (12), pp 6628–663DOI: 10.1021/es5001566


  1. Huang H-B, Lai C-H, Chen G-W, Lin Y-Y, Jaakkola JJK, Liou S-H, et al. (2012) Traffic-Related Air Pollution and DNA Damage: A Longitudinal Study in Taiwanese Traffic Conductors. PLoS ONE 7(5): e37412.


  1. Tanwar V, et al. Preconception Exposure to Fine Particulate Matter Leads to Cardiac Dysfunction in Adult Male Offspring. Journal of the American Heart Association, 2018; 7 (24) DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.118.010797


  1. Park M, et al. Differential toxicities of fine particulate matters from various sources

Scientific Reports volume 8, Article number: 17007 (2018),  Published: 19 November 2018


  1. Kelly, et al. Air pollution and public health: emerging hazards and improved understanding of risk.  Environ Geochem Health. 2015; 37(4): 631–649.  Published online 2015 Jun 4. doi: 10.1007/s10653-015-9720-1


  1. Janssen NA, Brunekreef B, van Vliet P, Aarts F, Meliefste K, Harssema H, et al. The relationship between air pollution from heavy traffic and allergic sensitization, bronchial hyperresponsiveness, and respiratory symptoms in Dutch schoolchildren. Environmental Health Perspectives. 2003;111(12):1512–1518. [PMC free article] [PubMed]


  1. Silverman DT, Samanic CM, Lubin JH, et al. The diesel exhaust in miners study: a nested case- control study of lung cancer and diesel exhaust. J Natl Cancer Inst. March 2, 2012. doi:10.1093/jnci/ djs034.


  1. Attfield MD, Schlieff PL, Lubin JH, et al. The diesel exhaust in miners study: a cohort mortality study with emphasis on lung cancer. J Natl Cancer Inst. March 2, 2012. doi:10.1093/jnci/djs035.


  1. Crüts B, et al. Exposure to diesel exhaust induces changes in EEG in human volunteers. Part Fibre Toxicol. 2008; 5: 4. Published online 2008 Mar 11. doi: 10.1186/1743-8977-5-4











Comments are closed.