I had a good laugh this morning when trolling through the web as I found a recent news article about research linking asthma to traffic was slightly absurd.
Knowing how the complexities and nuances of research are often lost in public news stories, I won’t assume that two ot the underlying messages I interpreted were intentional. However, I must admit, they reveal something about the way we view the world.
The first thing that caught my attention was this sentence: “An Australian study into childhood asthma has sounded an alarm over city living, with even apparently safe levels of traffic pollution found to exacerbate the respiratory condition.” From my understanding, resesarchers have known for a long time that children, the elderly and women tend to be more susceptible to the toxins in our environments. While we might have safety thresholds for health, they are produced through a mix of insufficient research, a designated tolerance level, and political influence. Therefore, when we consider ‘safe’ we may not actually mean safe for children or others who may be more susceptible to pollutants. These ‘minorities’ meanwhile, are likely to comprise a larger population than to whom the thresshold applies.
The second thing that raised my eyebrows was the general advice provided to address the issue. The advice was not to encourage public transport or alternative modes, but to encourage siting of children’s activities away from traffic, and potentially in the future, whole families.
“Mr Pereira said he hoped the finding would stimulate more research into this area, and it was too soon to suggest parents of asthmatic children consider moving to areas with less traffic”.
I find it odd, that we continue to govern our lives around traffic rather than govern traffic; and we continue to place responsibility on individuals for situations that really require collective solutions.