Chapter 7-Transport and Health.docx

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Family Relations and Human Development
FRHD 3090
Michelle Preyde

Chapter 7 – Transport and Health Background  New paradigm in thinking about transport and health has been to shift the debate from ‘safety’ to health benefits  ‘Safety’ has been used by public authorities to create transport systems that are sometimes harmful to health o E.g. law in Australia requiring cyclists to wear helmets – resulted in fewer people cycling Sustainable Development – A Global Perspective  The UN ‘Earth Summit’ in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 focused world opinion on protecting the Earth’s resources, biosystems, and societies for present and future generations – report mentioned ‘health’ many times and WHO and other agencies have reaffirmed the relationship between sustainable development and health  Sustainable development acknowledges that economic development will continue in all parts of the world and, along with population increase, there will be pressure on scarce resources  Predictions that transfer the existing patterns of car use of Western countries to all the people in developing countries show that the car is quire unsustainable, from the energy perspective, as a means of global transport o Western economies are using cars at a far greater level of CO production per capita than is accepted 2 globally, and will have to cut down their car use  The World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention, published jointly by the WHO and World Bank, shows that 1.2 million people die from road accidents world-wide each year, and between 20 and 50 millions are injured, some with permanent disabilities o Mortality rates are highest in Africa and Middle Eastern countries, it is predicted that road crashes will be 3 greatest cause of death and disability, worldwide, by the world 2020, just behind clinical depression and heart disease, and ahead of respiratory infections, tuberculosis, and HIV o Impact greatest in rapidly motorizing countries Patterns of Travel  Travel can be by different modes of transport, depending on the distances to be travelled, and including walking, cycling, buses, cars, trains, boats, and aircrafts  In recent decades, in Western Europe, the number of journeys by bus and rail have remained stable or diminished, whereas travel by car and air have increased. By contrast, in countries of central and eastern Europe, and the newly independent states, bus and rail travel remain important means of travel, while care use is expanding from a low bus  Travel patterns related to income. While total number of trips between social groups is relatively similar, about 1000 a year, people in low-income families travel further distance, by walking and b bus, than people in high-income families, while high-income families travel much further by car Trends  Dominant trend of travel in past decades in western societies has been the rise in motor vehicle transport, static use of public transport, and falling journeys and distance for cycling and walking  Road transport volume doubled in the period 1952-94, but distance covered increased four-fold. In same period, rail volume diminished H EALTH MPACTS OF TRANSPORT Heart Disease  Most important contribution transport to health is through encouraging exercise – either walking or cycling – which protects against heart disease  Strong epidemiological evidence that regular exercise, a balanced diet, and not smoking, promote cardiovascular health  Regular exercise probably has both short-term effects of cardiovascular fitness and long-term cumulative protective effects by limiting development of obesity, strengthening the heart muscle, and reducing blood pressure, and metabolic effects, including improving cholesterol and fibrinogen levels and insulin sensitivity  Exercise can be incorporated within a day’s activities, including travel, gardening, leisure, and social visits  Benefit of exercise comes in limiting progression of osteoporosis. Regular exercise and weight-bearing ensure continued bone strength, and is probably more beneficial, on population level, than current drug treatments for osteoporosis Mental Health  Exercise is recognized to have mental health benefits through stimulating thought and protecting from depression – there is probably a direct physiological causal path  More complex, negative relationship to mental health is the effect of traffic through ‘community severance’  Studies in USE and Europe have shown that streets with less traffic (speed and volume) have a better quality of life (measure, for example, by counts of street activities, open windows, flower boxes, and other signs of personal care), and are perceived by families to be more friendly and free from danger  With heavy traffic density, there is a relative fall in land values, the houses are less desirable, and the streets are perceived as more stressful, especially for children and elderly people  Link between traffic noise and health at population exposure levels (in contrast to higher noise industrial exposure) has been difficult to investigate o No causal association with mental illness o Reduced air quality of life from both airport and trunk road noise is demonstrated through lower house prices Respiratory Disease  Most people in town spend most of their lives indoors, and this there are important effects of indoor air on respiratory disease: coal fires contribute to respiratory diseases in childhood, while central heating or damp walls, creating environments suitable for house dust mites or mould respectively, may increase allergic asthma  Urban external air quality has improved considerably in recent decades, as a result of industrial zones and changing from coal to oil and gas domestic heating. Urban air pollution is now mainly due to road traffic – and air respects few boundaries  Air pollution can affect health in four ways: carcinogenic volatile organic compounds such as benzene and 1,3 butadiene; greenhouse gases and nitrogen oxides, contributing to acute respiratory illnesses; and particulates, es
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