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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Buy an E-Z Pass

Source: U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration

Do you drive frequently on tollways? If so, you should buy an E-ZPass.

Why? Well, Lindsay Abrams reported an interesting health benefit involving E-Z Pass in the June 2013 Atlantic.
Exposure to pollution matters, too. One of the more inventive recent studies involves, of all things, E‑ZPass. The toll-collection system eased traffic on New Jersey and Pennsylvania highways, improving air quality, which seems to have in turn affected fetal health. Among pregnant women living within a mile or so of an E-ZPass toll plaza, premature births fell by 8.6 percent, and low birth weight, by 9.3 percent. [Emphasis in original.]
Abrams references Currie and Walker, “Traffic Congestion and Infant Health” (American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Jan. 2011).

The short Abrams piece cites a number of other studies involving maternal and fetal health. It turns out that nuclear fallout is bad for newborns, but you would have guessed that. The piece also references data suggesting that national tragedies (think 9/11) and war are also harmful to fetuses -- but so is famine. Indeed, even voluntary fasting during regular religious holidays seems to have unfortunate health consequences for babies.

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