Traffic pollution linked to new child asthma cases

Maricruz Casares
Abril 12, 2019

Globally, that means four million children develop asthma every year as a result of air pollution from vehicles, that's the equivalent of 11,000 new cases a day.

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 pollution caused asthma among 350,000 children in India, the second largest after China, in 2015, finds a Lancet study that analysed 194 countries.

Senior author Dr Susan Anenberg, of George Washington University in the U.S., said: "Our findings suggest that the World Health Organisation guideline for annual average NO2 concentrations might need to be revisited, and that traffic emissions should be a target to mitigate exposure".

South Korea (31 per cent) had the highest proportion of traffic pollution-attributable childhood asthma incidence.

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Lead author Ploy Achakulwisut, also of George Washington University, added: "Our study indicates that policy initiatives to alleviate traffic-related air pollution can lead to improvements in children's health and also reduce greenhouse gas emissions".

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

The Daily Mail reports that the number of childhood asthma cases is rising steadily from the 1950s, making the inflammatory illness the most common among children on a global scale.

It is thought that pollution from traffic may damage airways, leading to inflammation and the development of asthma in children who are genetically predisposed to the condition.

While it is not clear which pollutant in traffic air pollution is responsible, previous research has suggested exposure to nitrogen dioxide is key.

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