Air pollution impact on childhood asthma, study

New research suggests that up to 38% of all annual childhood asthma cases in Bradford may be caused by air pollution.

girl, backpack
Image: University of Leeds

The investigation, drove by the University of Leeds, likewise indicates activity related air contamination could be particularly in charge of up to 24% of the aggregate number of cases.

Scientists used a model that knits together four distinct models of traffic, emissions, atmospheric dispersion and health impact assessments in Bradford. Through this, scientists successfully analyzed the full chain of impact – from the source of air pollution through the pathways in which it impacts children’s health.

Study lead author Dr. Haneen Khreis carried out this research while at the Institute for Transport Studies at Leeds. She said: “Overall rates of childhood asthma cases in Bradford are higher than the national average, as were emergency hospital admissions for asthmatic children under 16. Traffic-related air pollution is a real concern to the community.”

“Our team’s previous research has shown that children exposed to high levels of traffic-related air pollution have a higher risk of developing asthma. Quantifying the number of childhood asthma cases that are directly attributable to traffic-related air pollution has not been done in the past and, as we show now, a significant portion of cases is largely preventable.”

Credit: Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and Health
Credit: Center for Advancing Research in Transportation Emissions, Energy, and Health

She added: “Our work demonstrates that while popular initiatives such as stopping vehicles from idling outside schools or providing walking routes away from roads are important, proposed solutions to mitigate traffic pollution shouldn’t be restricted to localized areas.

“New policies aimed at reducing the effects of traffic-related air pollution need to target each link in the full chain of events – from traffic volume and type, to exhaust and non-exhaust emissions, to the dispersion to exposure.”

Scientists primarily analyzed the rate of air pollution in the city. Examining this, they were able to evaluate the levels of nitrogen dioxide – air contamination delivered because of street activity. High centralizations of nitrogen dioxide can make disturbance the respiratory framework and fundamentally compound existing respiratory issues.

The initial estimates of the model showed that 12% of the annual childhood asthma cases would be attributable to traffic-related air pollution. However, the team knew the model was underestimating the traffic-related fraction of air pollution. After adjusting the results using actual measurements of air pollutants, it showed that up to 24% of the annual cases could be attributable to traffic-related air pollution.

Professor Nieuwenhuijsen said: “There is very little research that explores the impact of different exposure assessments. Cases of childhood asthma have been steadily increasing since the 1950s. Future progress with childhood asthma requires a focus beyond controlling and treating the disease toward asthma prevention starting with reducing traffic-related air pollution.”

Their study, published today in Environment International.