Children and air pollution
Important news in a ground-breaking case recently – nine-year-old Ella Kissi-Debrah was the first person in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death.
Research is especially prolific in the field of childhood development and disease, where numerous studies have shown links to disease and air pollution. As their lungs are still developing, babies and children are especially vulnerable to air pollution.
In children with asthma, high levels of air pollution are linked to increased asthma attacks, prolonged exposure may also cause the asthma initially. A review of studies by conducted by the ‘ESCAPE’ project demonstrated that “exposure to air pollution may result in reduced lung function in schoolchildren”.
In London, similar studies are now showing that children growing up in polluted parts of the city are developing smaller lungs. In addition, pregnant women exposed to ambient air pollution are more likely to have associated adverse birth outcomes, such as low birth weight, premature birth and small gestational age births.
The European Respiratory Society is quoted as saying that “like tobacco smoke, ambient air pollution is a well-established cause of morbidity and mortality. However, unlike smoking, air pollution is not a lifestyle choice but a ubiquitous involuntary environmental exposure, which can affect 100% of the population from the womb to death”.