New Opportunities to Mitigate the Burden of Disease Caused by Traffic Related Air Pollution: Antioxidant-Rich Diets and Supplements

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Jan 18;17(2):630. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17020630.


Air pollution is associated with premature mortality and a wide spectrum of diseases. Traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) is one of the most concerning sources of air pollution for human exposure and health. Until TRAP levels can be significantly reduced on a global scale, there is a need for effective shorter-term strategies to prevent the adverse health effects of TRAP. A growing number of studies suggest that increasing antioxidant intake, through diet or supplementation, may reduce this burden of disease. In this paper, we conducted a non-systematic literature review to assess the available evidence on antioxidant-rich diets and antioxidant supplements as a strategy to mitigate adverse health effects of TRAP in human subjects. We identified 11 studies that fit our inclusion criteria; 3 of which investigated antioxidant-rich diets and 8 of which investigated antioxidant supplements. Overall, we found consistent evidence that dietary intake of antioxidants from adherence to the Mediterranean diet and increased fruit and vegetable consumption is effective in mitigating adverse health effects associated with TRAP. In contrast, antioxidant supplements, including fish oil, olive oil, and vitamin C and E supplements, presented conflicting evidence. Further research is needed to determine why antioxidant supplementation has limited efficacy and whether this relates to effective dose, supplement formulation, timing of administration, or population being studied. There is also a need to better ascertain if susceptible populations, such as children, the elderly, asthmatics and occupational workers consistently exposed to TRAP, should be recommended to increase their antioxidant intake to reduce their burden of disease. Policymakers should consider increasing populations' antioxidant intake, through antioxidant-rich diets, as a relatively cheap and easy preventive measure to lower the burden of disease associated with TRAP.

Keywords: Mediterranean diet; antioxidant supplement; antioxidant-rich diet; health effects; inflammation; oxidative stress; reduce burden of disease; traffic-related air pollution.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution / adverse effects*
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology*
  • Diet*
  • Dietary Supplements*
  • Food Analysis
  • Humans


  • Antioxidants