Strangers are poisoning you and your families with toxic chemicals.

Even if you don’t agree with the vast majority of climate scientists about human-caused climate change, you should believe what the American Lung Association says about the effects of vehicle exhaust on health.

In Living Near Highways and Air Pollution, The American Lung Association says living near a highway is bad for your health:

The number of people living “next to a busy road” may include 30 to 45 percent of the urban population in North America, according to the most recent review of the evidence. In January 2010, the Health Effects Institute published a major review of the evidence by a panel of expert scientists. The panel looked at over 700 studies from around the world, examining the health effects. They concluded that traffic pollution causes asthma attacks in children, and may cause a wide range of other effects including: the onset of childhood asthma, impaired lung function, premature death and death from cardiovascular diseases, and cardiovascular morbidity. The area most affected, they concluded, was roughly 0.2 to 0.3 miles (300 to 500 meters) from the highway.

Dementia in the elderly is also correlated with living near highways.

In short, driving a gas-powered car is like smoking a cigarette in an infant nursery.

But the solution isn’t for people to relocate away from highways, because that leads to sprawl and long commutes.

The solutions include: public transportation, more efficient vehicles, carpooling, electric cars, bicycling, shorter commutes, smarter walkable communities where residential areas aren’t separated from shopping and business areas. Instead of driving to big box stores to shop, people should walk or bike to the corner market, or at least drive shorter distances. Walkable communities are more pleasant to live in and tend to result in higher real estate values.

If you take public transportation, not only do you help save the environment and protect your and others’ health, you also get a chance to read books.  Taking the bike, even to the bus stop, gives you exercise.

Cities should be built for people, not for cars.

A generation ago it was considered acceptable for people to smoke cigarettes in restaurants. Nowadays society has recognized the dangers from second-hand smoke and has restricted cigarette smoking in public places.

A generation from today society is likely to regard driving a gas-powered vehicle with similar disapproval. Indeed, the UK will ban sales of new gas and diesel cars by 2040. Petrol and diesel ban: How will it work?: “Poor air quality is the ‘biggest environmental risk to public health in the UK’ – thought to be linked to about 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK – the government says.”