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How the emissions from road traffic harm our children
Increasing air pollution hurts all of us, but it primarily affects the health of our children. Researchers have now found that around four million children develop asthma each year as a result of air pollution from cars and trucks.
A recent study by George Washington University found that air pollution from cars and trucks causes approximately four million asthma diseases in children each year. The results of the study were published in the English language journal "Lancet Planetary Health".
Polluted air is more harmful than previously thought
Most new cases of asthma in children occur in places where air pollution is below the World Health Organization (WHO) limit. This suggests that polluted air is harmful even at lower loads than previously thought. The impairments are not limited to countries like China and India, where air pollution is particularly high. In cities in the UK and Australia, for example, researchers blame traffic pollution for around three quarters of all new childhood asthma cases.
How can we reduce air pollution in traffic?
The results suggest that millions of new cases of pediatric asthma could be prevented by reducing air pollution. The main pollutant nitrogen dioxide is largely generated by diesel vehicles. Improving access to cleaner transportation such as electric vehicles, cycling and walking could help reduce asthma and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Children need better protection
The pioneering study shows the massive worldwide pollution caused by traffic emissions. Asthma is just one of the many adverse effects of pollution on children's health. Governments must act now to protect our children. Many large studies have already shown that there is a strong link between traffic emissions and asthma in children and that air pollution causes harmful inflammation. The authors of the study explain that there is apparently a strong causal link between traffic emissions and asthma in children. The most important pollutant seems to be nitrogen dioxide (NO2). But other pollutants such as fine dust particles could also be an important factor. According to the researchers, childhood asthma has now reached epidemic proportions worldwide. Around every eighth new case is due to air pollution from traffic. The results of the study provide evidence that existing WHO standards do not adequately protect children from asthma.
What countermeasures are taken?
It is important that parents try to reduce child exposure, for example by using stroller covers for protection or avoiding busy streets as much as possible. However, this is not always possible. It is therefore necessary to promote political initiatives to combat air pollution at city, state and national levels. The good news is that a transition to zero-emission vehicles is already underway. Some countries and cities have committed to withdrawing internal combustion engines and have adopted environmental protection guidelines. This includes, for example, the establishment of zones with extremely low emission values. However, action must also be taken in a global context - much faster than before. Every year of delay endangers the health of millions of children worldwide. (as)