"We've been looking at this all wrong," says Dr. Karl Rapp who conducted the study on congestion and asthmatic children. "For reasons that are still unclear, it's the asthmatic children who are creating these traffic headaches for cities, not the other way around."
By comparing rates of chronic asthma in children in Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New Orleans, Dr. Rapp found that areas with the highest concentrations of asthmatic children aligned almost exactly with the most congested and traveled streets and highways in those cities. More research will be needed to understand the phenomenon, but Dr. Rapp suspects the connection may have something to do with increased emergency response vehicles and medicine deliveries to the asthmatics.
"It's an environmental justice issue. These sick children are slowing down traffic in cities across the country. Something must be done," Dr. Rapp says. "If your children have asthma, please keep them away from our roads."