NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 2, 2007

A University of Washington study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that where you live in a city matters more to your health than what city you call home.

According to the authors:

  • Different parts of a city have more exposure to fine particulate air pollution of less than 2.5 microns in diameter -- about 1/20th the size of a human hair or less -- than other parts of a city.
  • This type of air pollution has been found to cause heart disease and even death in women over the age of 50.
  • Living beside major roads, power plants or factories will increase the exposure and the risk of getting sick.

"When you live on a four-lane road, your levels are pretty high," said Brian McCarry, chair in environment and health at McMaster University.  "Right next to a major road, your exposure is quite different than if you live two blocks away.  It's very dependent on where you live."

"This is much more immediate, real and happening everyday," said Dr. Stephan van Eeden, spokesperson for the Heart and Stroke Foundation."  The effect this has on us directly is much more real than just the climate is changing and something is going to happen in 50 or 100 years.  This is with us. This affects everybody."

Source: Joanna Frketich, "Where you live impacts your health," Hamilton Spectator, February 2, 2007; based upon: Kristin A. Miller et al., "Long-Term Exposure to Air Pollution and Incidence of Cardiovascular Events in Women," New England Journal of Medicine, Vol. 356, Number 5, February 1, 2007.

For study: 


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