Study links traffic pollution to 10pc of childhood asthma cases

Modesto Morganelli
Aprile 12, 2019

Nitrogen dioxide, which comes from vehicle exhausts, has been described as a "substantial" risk factor for the condition, meaning busy United Kingdom cities such as London and Manchester are not good for lung health.

Traffic-related air pollution may result in asthma development.

Globally, the study suggests there are 170 new cases of traffic pollution-related asthma per 100,000 children every year, and 13 per cent of childhood asthma cases diagnosed each year are linked to traffic pollution.

The researchers said that 92% of cases of childhood asthma attributable to exposure to traffic pollution occurred in areas with average nitrogen dioxide concentrations below the World Health Organisation (WHO) guideline of 21 parts per billion.

One of the scientists involved in the research, Dr Ploy Achakulwisut, from the George Washington University, in America says that in countries where governments have tried to reduce traffic pollution they have seen an improvement in the breathing health of children.

While air pollution levels have been falling, evidence has been mounting of the harm emissions such as NO2 can cause.

"Recent examples include Shenzhen's electrification of its entire bus fleet and London's Ultra-Low Emission Zone congestion charges".

The research was published in the journal of Lancet Planetary Health and is the first global assessment of the impact traffic fumes has on childhood asthma.

Although it is not yet clear which specific pollutant within the traffic-related air pollution mixture is the source of asthma development, reviews by the US Environmental Protection Agency suggest a causal relationship is likely to exist between long-term nitrogen dioxide exposure and childhood asthma.

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