Though many Angelenos view their traffic-jammed freeways as being as much a part of the city’s identity as its famed movie industry, Los Angeles officials have warned residents about the significant health consequences of living so close to them, the Los Angeles Times reported Thursday.

While California air quality officials have advised against constructing new homes and apartments within 500 feet of a freeway for over a decade, the city issued building permits for 4,300 homes close to freeways in 2015 and 300 more last year.

People living in close proximity to Los Angeles freeways were at risk of constantly inhaling harmful nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide gasses emitted from the daily blizzard of moving vehicles. Some of the long-term health consequences of living in such conditions involved people experiencing higher rates of asthma, strokes, lung cancer and pre-term births. The most recent research into the issue divulged that residing by freeways could also result in greater chances of childhood obesity, autism and dementia.

The number of people living near freeways in Los Angeles was growing faster than anywhere else in the city as municipal lawmakers were pushing developers to build more housing along the routes of the city’s newly minted metro system.

City legislatures have said that creating more urban density would entice some drivers to take the subway instead of their cars, which would in turn greatly reduce the city’s emission of greenhouse gasses.

At least 1.2 million people were currently living within 500 feet of a freeway in Los Angeles. The number of people living by freeways grew 3.9 percent between 2000-2010, compared to a 2.6 percent increase for those living in the rest of the city.

Los Angeles City Councilman José Huizar, who lives within 500 feet of a freeway, said the health consequences were so bad that the city should create buffers to protect its residents from the air pollution. But other elected officials have called Huizar’s plan implausible, citing how implementing undeveloped lands around Los Angeles’ extensive network of freeways would diminish the city’s efforts to alleviate its housing shortage.

Los Angeles freeways experience more traffic than those in any other U.S. city, with the average Angeleno spending roughly 81 hours in traffic in all of 2015, according to U.S. News and World Report. The city with the second most amount of traffic in 2015 was Washington, D.C., where residents spent 75 hours annually on congested highways.

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