Thousands of lives are saved every year if the government reduces air pollution to a legal level, a coalition of scientists and environmental groups claim

Air pollution can significantly increase the risk of death of babies in their first year of life, according to a major study.


Researchers followed nearly 2001 million children born in England and Wales between 2001 and 2012.

They found that babies in the most polluted areas had a 30 to 50 percent greater risk of dying due to any cause by the age of one.

Air pollution can increase the risk of death in babies & # 39; s by up to 50 percent, a survey of 8 million children has discovered

Air pollution can increase the risk of death in babies & # 39; s by up to 50 percent, a survey of 8 million children has discovered

Britain's worst pollution hotspots were outside London's Earls Court tube station, where the annual average was 129.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. That is threefold that of the 40 mcg limit of the World Health Organization, according to research last month

Britain's worst pollution hotspots were outside London's Earls Court tube station, where the annual average was 129.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. That is threefold that of the 40 mcg limit of the World Health Organization, according to research last month

Britain's worst pollution hotspots were outside London's Earls Court tube station, where the annual average was 129.5 micrograms per cubic meter of air. That is threefold that of the 40 mcg limit of the World Health Organization, according to research last month


Experts have long warned that air pollution poses a health risk, but the new study contains some of the most grim findings so far of the extent of that damage.

Scientists say that the microscopic particles emitted by cars and industry are inhaled deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

From there, it can cause heart disease and lung cancer later in life, as well as lung infections such as pneumonia.

The observational study gave no reason why the children would die earlier.

Researchers at the Cardiff University School of Medicine discovered that three separate air pollutants all independently increased the risk of death of babies.

The main culprits were nitrogen dioxide (NO2), sooty smog that was pumped away by old diesel cars – known as suspended particles (PM10) – and sulfur dioxide (SO2).

NO2 and PM10 are mainly released from traffic, while SO2 is produced by burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas.


The research team used the British Office for National Statistics to analyze data of 7,984,366 live births and deaths in England and Wales over the 12 years.

They divided the country into approximately 35,000 small areas, each with a comparable population of 1,500 inhabitants or 650 households.

Researchers then used average annual pollution data from the Ministry of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

The team, led by Dr. Sarah Kotecha, calculated how much pollution each area was exposed to before it was linked to death rates.


Air pollution in the UK was labeled in September as a & # 39; national shame & # 39 ;.


Figures for 2017 showed that 37 of the 43 air quality zones in the UK had illegal levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution, the same number as the year before.

Annual average levels of the pollutant from exhaust gasses dropped in most places, government figures revealed and ClientEarth environmental legislation.

But levels are still more than double the legal limit in Greater London and also well above the limit in areas such as South Wales, West Midlands, Glasgow and Greater Manchester.

Brighton, Worthing and Littlehampton in West Sussex – an area that was declared legal last year – again crawled to just below the threshold, the statistics show.

The UK has crossed EU pollution limits for nitrogen dioxide, a large proportion of which come from diesel vehicles, since the rules came into force in 2010.


Air pollution causes an estimated 40,000 premature deaths a year in the UK and is related to health problems, from childhood diseases to heart disease and even dementia.

There was a 20 to 40 percent increased risk of death for babies up to one year in the most polluted areas.

The doctors also found a 20 to 40 percent increased risk of neonatal death – deaths occurring within 28 days of birth – in contaminated areas.

And they recorded a peak of 30 to 50 percent in post-neonatal deaths, occurring between 28 days after birth and a year, in the same areas.

After correction for factors that could influence the results, such as deprivation, birth weight, maternal age and multiple births, the risks decreased slightly.


The chance of a baby dying was seven percent higher in areas with a high NO2 content, four percent for PM10 and 19 percent for SO2.

They discovered that neonatal deaths increased by 21 percent in areas plagued by SO2, but not significant for NO2 and PM10.

And the risk of post-neonatal mortality increased by 11 percent, 12 percent and 15 percent for areas with high NO2, PM10 and SO2 respectively.

The average level of the pollutants in the moth-polluted areas was 34ug / m3 for NO2, 22ug / m3 for PM10 and 6ug / m3 for SO2.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that a safe NO2 level is lower than 40ug / m3, 20ug / m3 for PM10 and less than 5ug / m3 SO2.

Dr. Kotecha said: & # 39; We discovered that NO2, PM10, and SO2 are each associated to varying degrees with infant mortality for any cause, and with neonatal and post-neonatal mortality.

& # 39; This is an important finding because the pollutants are produced and come from different sources.

& # 39; Our findings show that, although progress has been made, the challenge remains to reduce air pollution in order to reduce infant deaths.

& # 39; Meanwhile, by understanding how pollution affects baby & # 39; s directly or through the mother, we can focus on appropriate therapies or other interventions, depending on the amount of exposure to the different types of pollutants. & # 39; ;

The findings will be presented at the European Respiratory Society International Congress on Sunday in Madrid.


Currently, 36,000 Britons die each year from air pollution, which costs the country £ 20 billion annually in health care.

A further 29,000 people die with a range of air-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease.

The UK is notoriously bad at controlling air pollution, with 37 cities constantly displaying illegal levels and the government has been dragged to court repeatedly in recent years.

Diesel cars have been promoted since the 1970s as an environmentally friendly choice because they emit less carbon dioxide.

But in recent years scientists have realized that diesel also produces more of the tiny particles and nitrogen oxides that are harmful to our health.



Air pollution reduces children's lung function, research has also suggested.

In the largest study of its kind, experts from the University of Leicester calculated the PM10 exposure of nearly 14,000 children between 1990 and 2008.

The team, which will present their findings at the same conference, looked at how it affected every trimester of pregnancy and during infancy and childhood.

The results showed that children exposed to high levels of PM10 – due to road traffic – had a reduced lung function at the age of eight.

Professor Anna Hansell, co-author of the study, said: “We discovered that exposure to PM10 road traffic already had harmful associations with lung function in eight-year-olds in early life.


& # 39; The associations were stronger among boys, children whose mothers had a lower educational level or smoked during pregnancy.

& # 39; Our findings suggest that air pollution during pregnancy and early life has important implications for lung function in early childhood. & # 39;

She added: "(The reduced function) can affect the development of children and possibly also their health trajectory in the long term. & # 39;

However, the researchers did not see any comparable connections between traffic pollution and lung function in children aged 15 years.

It is believed that this is due to a crackdown on pollution during the peiod study.

Professor Hansell said: & # 39; We think this is because the air pollution levels, especially diesel emissions, decreased as the lung function increased in these analyzes.

& # 39; However, it is also possible that the effect of air pollution is small and that lung growth may exceed the negative effects against teenage years. & # 39;

She said it was unclear how traffic pollution can affect children's lung function, especially during pregnancy.

A mechanism could be that particles cross the placenta and disrupt the development of the growing lungs of the fetus.

Jorgen Vestbo, respiratory professor at the University of Manchester, said the findings point to the dangers of exposure to dirty air from the start of life.

Professor Vestbo, who is also chairman of the Advocacy Council of the European Respiratory Society, added: & Much research has shown that in the long term, outdoor air pollution can reduce life expectancy, affect lung development, can increase the incidence of asthma and lead to other chronic respiratory diseases.

& # 39; Breathing is the most basic human function needed to sustain life. We cannot give up the fight for the right to breathe clean air, and we must continue to put pressure on policymakers to ensure that the maximum levels of pollutants declared by the World Health Organization are not exceeded in our towns and villages to the health of young babies, as well as the wider population. & # 39;

Researchers looked at the young people during pregnancy and at the age of zero to six months, seven to 12 months and then annually up to the age of 15 years.

They measured the volume of air that children could expel in one second and the maximum amount of air they could breathe after taking a deep breath.

Children took the tests at the age of eight and 15 years and scientists compared their results with their exposure to PM10.

Each microgram per cubic meter of air (mcg / m3) PM10 during the first trimester of pregnancy was linked to a reduction in lung function by 0.8 percent.

The researchers found a similar trend during the second and third trimesters, throughout the entire pregnancy and up to the age of eight.


CAUSE CHILDREN TO HAVE A LOW IQ: Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, found in May 2019 that children of mothers living in polluted areas have an IQ that is up to seven points lower than children living in cleaner air locations.

CAUSE CHILDREN HAVING BAD MEMORY: Researchers at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health discovered that boys who were exposed to higher PM2.5 levels in the womb performed worse on memory tests by the time they were 10.

DELAY OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT: Young people who live less than a third mile off busy roads are twice as likely to score lower on childhood communication skills tests, researchers at Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health found in April. They also had a better chance of poorer hand-eye coordination.

MAKE CHILDREN MORE DELIVERED: Scientists from the University of Cincinnati claimed that pollution could change the structure of children's brains to make them more anxious. Their study of 14 young people discovered that the fear rates were higher among those who were exposed to more pollution.

SHORTLIFE YOUR CHILD'S LIFE: Children born today lose nearly two years of their lives from air pollution, according to a report from the US Health Effects Institute and the University of British Columbia in April 2019. UNICEF called for action at the back of the study.

HAS A CHILD RISK OF AUTISM: Researchers at Monash University in Australia discovered that young people living in highly polluted parts of Shanghai are 86% more likely to develop ASD. Main author Dr. Yuming Guo said: & # 39; The developing brain of young children are more vulnerable to toxic exposure in the environment. & # 39;

CAUSE ASTMA IN CHILDREN: Four million children around the world develop asthma every year due to traffic pollution, an important study by academics at George Washington University estimated. Experts are divided on what causes asthma – but exposure to pollution in childhood increases the risk of damaging the lungs.

MAKE CHILDREN FAT: Experts from the University of Southern California discovered last November that 10-year-olds who lived in polluted areas when they were still babies are 1.2 kg more on average than those who grew up around cleaner air. Nitrogen dioxide pollution can disrupt the way children burn fat, the scientists said.

LET WOMEN BEFORE BEFORE: Scientists from the University of Modena, Italy, claimed in May 2019 that they believe pollution speeds up aging in women, just like smoking, which means that they no longer have eggs. This was based on the fact that they found nearly two-thirds of the women with a low & # 39; reserve & # 39; eggs that regularly inhaled toxic air.

HAS THE RISK OF AN ERROR: Scientists from the University of Utah discovered in January that pregnant women are 16 percent more likely to have a heartache from miscarriage if they live in areas with high pollution.

HAVE THE RISK ON BREAST CANCER: Scientists from the University of Stirling discovered that six women who worked on the same bridge next to a busy US road got breast cancer within three years of each other. There was one in 10,000 chance that the cases were coincidence, the study said. It suggested that chemicals in the traffic fumes caused the cancer by shutting down the BRCA genes, which try to prevent tumors from growing.

DAMAGE A MAN SPERM: Brazilian scientists at the University of Sao Paulo discovered in March that mice exposed to toxic air had a lower number and worse sperm cells than those who had inhaled clean air since birth.

MAKE PEOPLE LESS LIKELY TO GET THEIR SEX: Scientists at Guangzhou Medical University in China found that rats exposed to air pollution were struggling to get sexually excited. Scientists believe it can also affect men, because inhaling toxic particles can cause blood vessel inflammation and starve the genitals of oxygen – affecting men's ability to become sexually aroused.

MAKE PEOPLE MORE LIKELY TO HAVE ERECTIVE DYS FUNCTION: Men living on main roads are more likely to get an erection because of exposure to pollution, a study by the University of Guangzhou in China suggested in February. Toxic fumes reduced blood flow to the genitals, showed rats tests, and they were at risk of developing erectile dysfunction.

RAIS THE RISK OF PSYCHOSIS: In March, scientists at King & # 39; s College London associated toxic air with intense paranoia and young people's voices for the first time. They said uncovering exactly how pollution can lead to psychosis is an & # 39; urgent health priority & # 39; must be.

Get depressed: Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found in January that the sadder the air, the sadder we are. Their research was based on analyzing social media users in China in addition to the average daily PM2.5 concentration and weather data where they lived.

CAUSE DEMENTIA: Air pollution could be responsible for 60,000 cases of dementia in the UK, researchers from King & # 39; s College London and St George & # 39; s, University of London, calculated last September. Small pollutants breathed deep into the lungs and entered the bloodstream where they can travel into the brain and cause inflammation – a problem that can cause dementia.

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