Every year, traffic-related pollution causes respiratory problems in 2 million kids worldwide: Lancet

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Published: Jan 07, 2022, 11:21 AM(IST)

Approximately two-thirds of the estimated 1.85 million new paediatric asthma cases worldwide in 2019 were attributed to nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which is a pollutant from tailpipe vehicle emissions, power plants, and industrial sites. Photograph:( Twitter )

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Even as air quality has improved in Europe and the US, air pollution, particularly NO2 pollution, has increased in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East

Traffic-related air pollution is driving nearly 2 million new cases of paediatric asthma every year, according to a new study.

Asthma is a chronic respiratory disorder that causes inflammation in the lungs' airways.

Ground concentrations of nitrogen dioxide, or NO2, which is a pollutant from tailpipe vehicle emissions, power plants, and industrial sites, were studied by researchers from George Washington University. 

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In more than 13,000 cities, they tracked new cases of asthma in children from 2000 to 2019.

"Our study found that nitrogen dioxide puts children at risk of developing asthma and the problem is especially acute in urban areas," said Susan Anenberg, a co-lead author of the article and a professor of environmental and occupational health at the varsity.

"The findings suggest that clean air must be a critical part of strategies aimed at keeping children healthy," she added.

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Approximately two-thirds of the estimated 1.85 million new paediatric asthma cases worldwide in 2019 were attributed to NO2. 

This study appeared in the journal Lancet Planetary Health.

Even as air quality has improved in Europe and the US, air pollution, particularly NO2 pollution, has increased in South Asia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.

South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa face a large burden of childhood asthma cases caused by NO2 pollution.

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1.8 million excess deaths in 2019 alone can be traced to urban air pollution, according to a second study from the varsity published in the same journal.

The team of researchers found that 86 per cent of adults and children living in cities around the globe are exposed to fine particulate matter levels that exceed the guidelines set by the World Health Organisation.

"Reducing fossil fuel-powered transportation can help children and adults breathe easier and may pay big health dividends, such as fewer cases of pediatric asthma and excess deaths," Anenberg said. "At the same time, it would also reduce greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a healthier climate."

(With inputs from agencies)

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