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UCLA researchers find potential link between traffic pollution and some rare childhood cancers

Scientists from UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health have found a possible link between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and several rare childhood cancers.

The results of their study—the first to examine air pollution from traffic and a number of rarer childhood cancers—were presented on 9 April in an abstract at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research in Washington, D.C.

For the study, the UCLA researchers, led by Julia Heck, an assistant researcher in the Fielding School’s epidemiology department and a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, utilized data on 3,950 children who were enrolled in the California Cancer Registry and who were born in the state between 1998 and 2007. They estimated the amount of local traffic the children had been exposed to using California LINE Source Dispersion Modeling, version 4 (CALINE4).

Pollution exposure was estimated for the area around each child’s home for each trimester of their mother’s pregnancy and during their first year of life. The estimates included information on gasoline and diesel vehicles within a 1,500-meter radius buffer, traffic volumes, roadway geometry, vehicle emission rates and weather. Cancer risk was estimated using a statistical analysis known as unconditional logistic regression.

The researchers found that heightened exposure to traffic-related air pollution was associated with increases in three rare types of childhood cancer:

  • acute lymphoblastic leukemia (white blood cell cancer);
  • germ-cell tumors (cancers of the testicles, ovaries and other organs); and
  • retinoblastoma (eye cancer), particularly bilateral retinoblastoma, in which both eyes are affected.

The pollution-exposure estimates were highly correlated across pregnancy trimesters and the first year of life, meaning that even in areas of high exposure, no particular period stood out as a higher-exposure time. This, the scientists said, made it difficult to determine if one period of exposure was more dangerous than any other.

Much less is known about exposure to pollution and childhood cancer than adult cancers. Our innovation in this study was looking at other, more rare types of childhood cancer, such as retinoblastoma, and their possible connection to traffic-related air pollution.

—Julia Heck

Because these are rare diseases, Heck cautions that the findings need to be replicated in further studies.


Henry Gibson

People and all other live things and the earth have always been naturally radioactive and oxygen has always been a poison that life forms have learned to repair their damages. Nuclear reactors produce less radiation to their workers than people or trees standing next to you do. Nuclear power would reduce much air pollution and the production of CO2. Nuclear power can increase the liquid fuel supply and purity by various means including making sodium liquid metal for refining oil from the ground as mentioned in a recent article. ..HG..


The article is about traffic pollution, not nuclear power, so your comment would appear to be irrelevant save for electricity produced by nuclear producing a lower death rate than using petrol.

No doubt Kit will continue to ignore the solid data on the continuing impact of air pollution on health in the US.


This may be (part of) a good argument for overhead electric power for major truck routes, using the Siemens system.  If the diesel engine isn't operating, it isn't generating pollutants from combustion.


It is well established that burning fossil fuels, bio-fuels and bio-mass has negative long lasting effects on the environment, animal and human health.

Recent studies have confirmed that, when pregnant women come in contact with certain plastics made from fossil fuels, their children will have higher levels of many incurable disorders such as:

1. autism.
2. child cancers.
3. learning disorders.
4. diabetes
5. obesity
6. behavior problems


1. Most of the above problems seem to increase with the years of exposure of the mothers to be. Pregnant women in their late thirties/early forties, will give birth to children with more of the above disorders.

2. The majority has a tendency to blame the children for unacceptable behavior while the cause can be traced to the environment imposed of the mothers to be.


A lot of the behaviour problems are caused by lack of sleep caused by kids staying awake too late using iPods and iPads and suchlike.
It is easier to give them Ritalin than fight with them to stop them using the devices.


More and more are born with behavior problems +++ and don't even need iPad, X-box, iPod etc to be affected. However, lack of sleep could be a booster?

Children (specially boys) born with autism have multiplied by 4 (from 1 per 100 to 1 per 25) in many regions since 2002. It is a real disaster and the many causes have not been fully identified. Environment changes and exposure to 1001 chemicals and drugs may very well be the main culprits. The social cost are/will be enormous.

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