Traffic pollution linked to 9% of new Irish childhood asthma cases

Traffic pollution linked to 9% of new Irish childhood asthma cases

The reasons for this are multiple.

It is thought that pollution from traffic makes it harder to breathe because it's bad for children's airways.

The researchers linked global datasets of NO2 concentrations, pediatric population distributions, and asthma incidence rates with epidemiological evidence relating traffic-derived NO2 pollution with asthma development in kids.

An estimated 4 million children developed asthma each year from 2010 to 2015 due to exposure to NO2 pollution, which primarily comes motor vehicle exhaust. NO2 is a pollutant formed mainly from fossil fuel combustion, and traffic emissions can contribute up to 80 per cent of NO2 in cities.

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Globally, the study estimates that four million cases of asthma in children can be attributed to traffic pollution. It was followed by Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, all on 30 per cent.

According to the researchers, the cities and countries that put their citizens at the greatest risk of developing asthma were also leaders in greenhouse gas emissions, proving that residents in these places are exposed to more pollution than just nitrogen dioxide.

The team analyzed asthma rates related to traffic-related emissions in cities and countries where there were large numbers of children. This is because asthma cases often go undiagnosed in these regions.

Traffic-related air pollution is resulting in four million new cases of asthma each year, the study shows. Indonesia (160,000) and Brazil (140,000) had the next largest burdens.

However, in busy cities the proportion is far higher, with 23 per cent of cases in Manchester due to pollution and 29 per cent in London.

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The UK ranked 24th worst out of 194 countries, with China 19th and the United States 25th. Although levels of other pollutants in India are among the highest in the world, NO2 appears to be lower than in many other countries.

Among the 125 cities, NO2 accounted for 6% (Orlu, Nigeria) to 48% (Shanghai, China) of pediatric asthma incidence.

The top 10 highest NO2 contributions were estimated for eight cities in China (37 to 48% of pediatric asthma incidence) and for Moscow, Russia and Seoul, South Korea at 40%. Paris ranked 21st (33%), NY ranked 29th (32%), London 35th (29%), and New Delhi 38th (28%).

The researchers note some limitations, including that studies linking traffic pollution and asthma, and NO2 monitoring data are largely from North America, Europe and east Asia, and NO2 ground-level monitors are mostly in urban areas, so could overestimate pollution levels in rural areas. An estimated 13 per cent of annual paediatric asthma incidence worldwide was linked to NO2 pollution.

Writing in a linked Comment, Professor Rajen N Naidoo, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, says: "An important outcome from this study is the further evidence that the existing World Health Organization standards are not protective against childhood asthma".

"That finding suggests that the WHO guideline for NO2 may need to be re-evaluated to make sure it is sufficiently protective of children's health", said Pattanun Achakulwisut, PhD, lead author of the paper and a postdoctoral scientist at Milken Institute SPH.

The research, published in the journal Lancet Planetary Health, is the first global assessment of the impact of traffic fumes on childhood asthma based on high-resolution pollution data.

This study was funded by George Washington University. "She is an associate professor of environmental and occupational health at the university's Milken Institute School of Public Health..."

[2] Quote direct from author and can not be found in the text of the Article.

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