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Study: Air Pollution responsible for 4 million children deaths

Health
Vehicular Polution

A Washington based study reveals disturbing statistics regarding children and asthma. Globally nearly 4 Million children get asthma every year due to vehicle-related pollution.

The report which was published on April 10 reveals that 92% of the cases occur in areas that technically meet World Health Organisation guidelines for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in the air. To counter pollution WHO set guidelines years ago, in which NO2 levels in the air should be restricted to 21 parts per billion or less.

The research which was published in The Lancet used NO2 as a proxy for vehicle-related pollution exposure. Nitrogen Oxide makes up a significant part of the mix of gases released through vehicle tailpipes. Although there are several other gases which possess harm to humans including carbon monoxide but a large portion of Nitrogen Oxide is very harmful to human health. There are also other contaminants that often come with NO2 like fine particulate matter known as PM2.5. These PM2.5 particles when inhaled can lodge deep into our lungs, causing respiratory illness, and due to their small size, they can even slip into the bloodstream which can significantly disrupt children’s physical and cognitive health.

This study is not the first study in finding a correlation between Traffic pollution and asthma in children, In fact, there are Plenty of studies which concluded that children who live or attend school in high traffic-related places perform worse on cognitive tests. Also, a Team of Researchers in a study of 783 children of 783 children between the ages of six and 10 in the Netherlands found that exposure to high levels of PM2.5 in the womb was causing structural alterations to the cerebral cortex — the region of the brain which is responsible for impulse control.

The Data gathered from this Research is very comprehensive. In order to perform this study the team behind the Lancet paper, from George Washington University, used 2015 country-level data on asthma incidence in children from nearly the entire world they gathered from 194 countries, as well as metropolitan-area-level data from 125 cities, all of this data is collected by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation and the entire research was instituted at the University of Washington. After this, they compare this data with a global data set of NO2 levels which were developed by a number of researchers in 2017.

According to Susan Anenberg, author of this study and an associate professor at George Washington, suggests that millions of these asthma cases were preventable. She suggested in a press release that “Improving access to transit that doesn’t rely on a combustion engine and focusing on renewable energy sources like electrified public transit and electric cars, would significantly save children from NO2 exposure”.

The Lancet Study reveals that In 2015 the rate of new cases of asthma was highest in Shanghai, China, where the researchers estimated 48% of all new childhood asthma cases came from inhaling traffic fumes accounting for 760,000 cases every year. China’s neighbour India comes in second with Traffic-related pollution causing asthma among 350,000 children.

China and India have a huge population and these nations have the highest no.of cases but surprisingly these nations not had the highest rate of children affected by traffic pollution. South Korea had the highest rate of traffic pollution-related childhood asthma, followed by Middle eastern Kuwait where there are 550 cases per 100,000 children each year, followed by another middle eastern nation UAE where there are 460 affected children cases per 100,000 children and Canada with 450 cases per 100,000 children.

Canada’s Neighbour “the US” had 240,000 cases per 100,000 children and Indonesia had 160,000 followed by Brazil with 140,000 cases.

Many Developed Nations Were in the top 50 and this proves that there is a serious need for sustainable development.

Urbanisation has its disadvantages due to the fact that Two-thirds of traffic pollution-related asthma cases occurred in urban centres globally.

The Pollution problem is Globally accumulating about 170 new cases of traffic pollution-related asthma per 100,000 children every year. Traffic Pollution each year accounts to 13 percent of childhood asthma cases.