"Combined with evidence from other recent studies, our findings underscore that we really can not tolerate the levels of air pollution we currently find on our busy streets," said Fan Chung, professor of medicine and respiratory studies head experimental medicine at the National Heart and Lung Institute of Imperial College.
Worldwide, outdoor air pollution causes an estimate of 4.5 million deaths per year. Exposure to air pollution has been linked to increases in hospital admissions and deaths from cardiovascular diseases, respiratory diseases and lung cancer. A key culprit is automobiles, since emissions from vehicles powered by gasoline and diesel are one of the main sources of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and particulates.
"For many people, like the elderly or those with chronic illnesses, the only exercise they can often do is walk," Chung said. He said he believes that  the results of the new study, carried out in London, would be replicable in many cities in North America and Europe. He also said that the impacts are likely to be applied to other age groups, but more studies are needed.
The report demands stricter air quality limits, better traffic control measures and greater access to green spaces. Chung also said that the study indicated that people should avoid occupied and congested areas whenever possible and opt for green spaces instead. He acknowledged that it can be difficult and expensive for those who live or work inside cities.
"We hope this study will add to the evidence that city leaders need to contribute to policies that promote the preservation of green spaces." said Jim Zhang, professor of global and environmental health at Duke and co-author of the study.
He added: "As economic growth and urbanization happen all over the world, many cities are left with very little green space … People like outdoor exercise, we should provide spaces to allow that instead of giving them another option but to walk and drive through busy and polluted streets. "
Brooke Havlik, communications director of the non-profit organization based in New York ACT for Environmental Justice, said that far from improving the situation, the United States is retreating to the federal level when it try to combat air pollution.
"The administrator of the Trump administration and the Scott Pruitt Environmental Protection Agency are actively working to dismantle critical public health and clean air protections," he said.
Poor air quality is creating a public health crisis in the US UU., Said Natalie Nava, project leader in the environmental group Greenpeace EE. UU
. The Obama administration proposed stricter fuel efficiency standards for vehicles to combat air pollution, since President Donald Trump took office, "the automotive companies have been really lobbying … to push back these standards" .
"As long as American automakers are driven by fuel standards and other sustainability regulations, they are showing that they care more about their short-term financial interests than they do themselves over the long-term benefits to public health. , the planet and even the economy, "he said.
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