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Traffic Pollution Could Increase Risk Of Arthritis

This article is more than 11 years old.

A new study by Brigham and Women's Hospital finds that exposure to traffic pollution may increase the risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.

The researchers looked at health data on 90,000 women nationwide and then measured how closely they lived to a major road. They found that women who lived within 50 meters of an interstate or large multi-lane road had a 31 percent increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease.

Jaime Hart, a research fellow at Brigham and Women's, says she believes traffic pollution is the cause. And she says if you live near a major road, "it's probably not a bad idea to limit your exposures to the roadway itself."

"So if you have a front yard and a back yard," Hart adds, "maybe stay in the back yard more often, that sort of thing."

Hart says she's now studying what specific types of pollutants could be to blame. The study appears online in Environmental Health Perspectives.

This program aired on April 2, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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