Drivers stuck in Nashville traffic are most likely thinking about their precious time, but when Vanderbilt allergy specialist Doctor Cosby Stone sees it, he thinks about something else.

"It's one of the major contributors to air quality," said Stone.

Stone said they're seeing more patients with serious health problems resulting from traffic and the pollution that comes with it.

"You could have increased rates of asthma exacerbation and COBD exacerbation, and actually it's sort of counter intuitive, but we see increased rates of heart attacks and strokes on days when the air quality is really bad," said Stone. 

Stone is particularly worried about children since poor air quality results in under developed lungs. 

"It's also been shown that children who grow up near major highways where there's a lot of diesel exhaust, that those kids are more likely to have asthma," said Stone.  

Doctors also said traffic pollution increases the ability of certain plants to make more pollen, so bad traffic means worse allergies.

"And so if ragweed grows by the side of a highway, they're actually bigger, more vigorous, and make way more pollen than other places," said Stone. 

Stone said it's to the point where Nashville really needs to do something about it, and he said you can help by focusing on fuel efficiency the next time you buy a car.

"Because any one of us could be a patient one day and, to the degree that we can clean up the air, we help everybody," said Stone. 

Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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Carley Gordon joined the News4 team as a reporter in 2009. Carley currently covers the crime beat around Middle Tennessee.

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